Original article no longer available
Dec 28, 2009
The crime-fighting show “America’s Most Wanted” will once again profile the Thanksgiving night massacre in Jupiter that left four family members dead and one of their relatives on the run.
The show will focus on the international manhunt for Paul Mehrige, in partnership with the Jupiter Police and the US Marshals Service.
Host John Walsh has a news conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon on Miami Beach where he’ll be joined by Jim Sitton, the father of the 6-year-old girl who was killed in the shootings. Officials from the Jupiter Police Dept. and US Marshal’s Office will also be there.
Federal authorities have already unveiled billboards with a picture of Merhige in South Florida — one on southbound Interstate 95 in the Delray Beach area and the second in the Hallandale Beach area, just north of the Miami-Dade County line.
Merhige, 35, is wanted on four counts of first-degree murder charges in the deaths of his 6-year-old cousin, 79-year-old aunt and twin sisters after Thanksgiving dinner in Jupiter.
Merhige has a history of mental instability and took medication for depression and anxiety. A law enforcement source has told CBS4 News the suspect had previously attempted suicide, but U.S. Marshal’s appear convinced Merhige is still alive and on the run.
Investigators have previously released ATM photos of Merhige withdrawing large amounts of cash before the murders, part of what they believe was a pre-conceived plan to be able to maneuver without leaving a trail of electronic transactions.
He may be driving a royal blue 4-door Toyota Camry. There is a $100,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
If anyone has information about Paul Michael Merhige, contact the Jupiter Police Department at (561) 746-6201, their local law enforcement agency or Crime Stoppers’ anonymous “TIP” phone number, 1-800-458-TIPS (8477).
POLICE: JUPITER KILLINGS PLANNED FOR SOME TIME — (South Florida Sun-Sentinal)
Andrew Marra The Palm Beach Post, SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL
Dec 1, 2009
Paul Michael Merhige, accused of killing four relatives at a Thanksgiving dinner in Jupiter, had threatened to kill family members before and regularly refused to take medication prescribed to treat his longtime mental illness, according to court records and Merhige’s mother.
Mentally troubled and hateful toward his family, police said Monday that the 35-year-old Miami man appeared to have been planning for weeks before carrying out the horrific attack.
He bought at least two firearms in October, said his mother, Carole Merhige, and last week he asked his parents for his passport.
Signs of Merhige’s animosity toward his family had emerged long before, records show.
“This time I’m not going to go by myself,” he allegedly added, referring to an earlier suicide attempt.
Seeking a restraining order, Carla Merhige wrote that her brother’s threat was just the latest of many that “occur on a regular basis since [Merhige] suffers from mental illness but refuses to take his medication.”
Carla was among the four people killed Thursday in what police say was a murderous rampage by her brother at their cousin’s Jupiter home. He is still on the loose and being hunted by law enforcement officials.
Merhige’s troubled mental history – which included severe depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder – dated to a nervous breakdown while he was an honors student at the University of Miami, his mother told The Palm Beach Post.
“Everything was perfect until he was 19,” she said.
But since graduating, his mental illness had barred him from holding down a job, and he had an often-violent relationship with his family, one that his mother characterized as “16 years of problems.”
Those troubles culminated in gunshots Thursday night at the home of his cousin, Muriel Sitton, and her husband Jim on Via Veracruz in Jupiter. Police say Merhige killed Carla and her twin, Lisa Knight, both 33; his aunt, Raymonde Joseph, 76, of Jupiter; and the Sittons’ daughter, Makayla, 6.
As a candlelight vigil with about 250 family and friends was held for the twin sisters Monday night in Miami, local and federal authorities stepped up their search for Merhige.
Acting on a phone tip, sheriff’s deputies in Martin County closed down Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound Monday and scoured the area for traces of him. Later Monday the park was reopened, with no signs of Merhige reported.
Before his mental troubles emerged, he had been a standout baseball player and student at a prestigious Miami high school. He later earned a place on an honors list while attending the University of Miami.
In her 2006 civil complaint, his sister alleged that Merhige charged at her after threatening to slit her throat but was restrained by their father. She described him as “disabled,” with “clinically diagnosed mental health problems.”
She won a restraining order against him, barring him from her home and office. Less than three weeks later she agreed to have it lifted, however.
Eight years earlier, Paul Merhige had sought protection from law enforcement authorities after he accused his sister of trying to kill him, The Miami Herald reported. He dropped the request about five weeks later.
At the time, Paul Merhige alleged that Carla had told him that “If I had the chance to get away with it, I’ll kill you [sic].”
Paul Merhige claimed that his sister broke his bedroom door down, began screaming at him and spit in his face before wrestling him to the floor, The Herald reported. He said he was being treated for “obsessive compulsive disorders” and that Carla and other family members “were aware of his treatment, but would purposely harass him, contradicting the doctor’s orders.”
Though he did not work, in recent years Merhige had become more independent and was living by himself in an apartment in Coral Gables, his mother said.
He was supposed to be on medication when Thursday’s shooting happened, but she said he had been self-medicating. She did not know whether he had been taking medication appropriately.
She said she hoped her son was captured soon, adding that she had no idea where he was.