Authorities are searching nationwide for a former lawyer who is on the run after failing to turn himself in after being convicted of theft and exploitation of his legal clients and elder abuse. Richard Merritt removed his ankle monitor and went on the run, allegedly first stabbing his mother to death.
The Daily Mail says that Merritt was sentenced to 30 years for his crimes against his clients and disbarred but because they were of the white-collar variety, the Cobb County Georgia Police allowed him seven days to get his affairs in order. When Merritt didn’t turn himself in on February 1, the U.S. Marshals went to his home in Stone Mountain, Georgia to arrest him and found the body of his mother, Shirley Merritt, 77.
Police say that Shirley Merritt was stabbed to death with a steak knife, and Richard Merritt was gone, leaving his ankle monitor behind.
Georgia authorities say that Richard Merritt should be considered “armed and dangerous” and asked that anyone who spots the fugitive to simply call 911. They added that Merritt is assumed to have taken his mother’s 2009 Lexus RX 350, license plate number CBV6004.
Police fear that Merritt could be seeking revenge against the clients he believes had him prosecuted for theft.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the U.S. Marshals have released a new photo of Merritt leaving an Atlanta gas station, and have authorized a reward of $5,000 for any information that leads to the capture of the fugitive.
A press release from the U.S. Marshals Service says that Merritt might have tried to change his appearance to evade capture.
“He may have shaved his head or otherwise changed his appearance, and should be considered armed and dangerous,” says the release.
“Do not try to engage him. If you see Merritt, please contact law enforcement immediately.”
Richard Merritt pleaded guilty in a Georgia court three weeks ago and agreed to serve 15 years behind bars and 15 additional years on probation. He has also been ordered to pay restitution of almost $500,000 to clients which will make it easier for other clients to file and potentially win civil suits.
Frank Lempka, one of the U.S. Marshals on this case, believes that Merritt could be anywhere because in his legal dealings he worked with other attorneys and people all over the country.
Anyone who believes they know the whereabouts of Richard Merritt can call DeKalb police at 770-724-7850 or the U.S. Marshals at 1-877-Wanted-2 (1-877-926-8332). If you prefer, tips can also be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.