ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Where is fugitive Cobb County attorney Richard Merritt? He has been on the run for 13 days and the US Marshals Service have had tips and sightings from all over the country.
Richard Merritt is suspected of murdering his mother hours before he was set to begin a 15-year sentence for stealing his client's money.
FOX 5 Senior reporter Dale Russell tracked Merritt's white collar crime spree for two years and has now talked to Merritt's ex-wife and brother to give viewers an idea of who Merritt is and where he may be.
When Richard Merritt was first arrested, his wife, Jenine, attended the bond hearing and urged the judge to keep her husband locked up.
“I'm in financial ruin. He's squandered every cent we have,” said Merritt.
Now, Jenine Merritt has no problem showing her face and expressing her fear.
“He's a deceitful, immoral person. But I never thought he would kill someone. The kids and I are scared. And now that we know what he's capable of. We are afraid that he's going to turn up,” said Ms. Merritt.
For two years, the FOX 5 I-Team investigated how more than a dozen victims said well-known Cobb county attorney Richard Merritt stole their settlement checks after handling their personal injury lawsuits.
In January, a Cobb County judge sentenced Merritt to 15 years in prison for stealing more than $454,706 from 17 different clients. But, Meritt was given two weeks to get his affairs in order.
Merritt's older brother Robert told us on February the first, their mother cooked Richard Merritt his favorite spaghetti meal for lunch before planning to drive him to jail to turn himself in.
But with noodles and red sauce still on the stove top and plates on the table, Shirley Merritt was beaten with a blunt instrument and stabbed to death about 50 feet away at the bottom of a stairwell.
Richard Merritt took his mother's 2009 gray Lexus and vanished.
“I think he had decided he wasn't going clearly. And he told her he wasn't going. I think he snapped. He was probably drunk. I know he was drinking heavily the last couple of days. I think he just snapped,” says Ms. Merritt.
Jenine Merritt says she is terrified. She has security for her and her children. She' left her home two weeks ago and is staying in an undisclosed location. She says the night before her now ex-husband was set to begin his prison sentence, he called her and threatened her.
(Threatened to kill you?) Not in those words. He said that he refused to ever let anyone else have me.
So, where is he? Where would he run? We asked his wife and his brother where would Richard Merritt feel the most comfortable.
Robert Merritt says the Merritt family roots are in Mississippi. His brother likes New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle.
Jenine Merritt agreed with Louisiana and the Florida panhandle but added New York.
And what does Richard Merritt like to do? Where would he hang out? Both said he loves to fish. And they both agreed on where he would hang out.
“He's always liked Irish pubs. He's always liked a good conversation. A good drink,” said Robert Merritt.
“Bars. Irish bars,” said Jenine Merritt.
And if someone watching this met him, what would Richard Merritt be like?
“He's funny, smart, he's engaging. He can strike up a conversation with anyone about anything,” said Jenine Merritt.
“He can get in there with the best of them and tell a story and talk politics,” added Robert.
Robert says his brother is a creature of habit and Jenine is convinced he'll grab a baseball hat and sunglasses and won't be able to stay in hiding.
“I think he's such a narcissist and he has to have an audience I don't think he can keep to himself forever. I think he's going to start going out. Public and chit-chatting with people and getting cocky,” Jenine said.
Merritt has one tattoo. An Irish cloverleaf with a crown on top on his right bicep.
And one final thing.
Merritt shaved his head before he left. But his wife says he can grow a goatee in two weeks. And grow back his fine, sandy brown hair in a month or so. But his wife says he can't grow a beard.
Richard Merritt is 5'10" around 170 pounds.