Dustin and Bret Merrick shot their uncle Skip Brown over $ 400

It was just two hours before sunset on January 15, 2017 when an emergency call center in Greene County, Ohio received a call about an injured woman lying on the edge of a driveway in Yellow Springs, about 15 miles outside of Dayton.

“I can see blood coming out of the side of your head,” the caller said. “It doesn’t look like she’s breathing.”

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office answered shortly after that call at 3:30 p.m. and could see that the victim, who was later identified as Sherri Mendenhall, 63, had already disappeared.

“There’s a lot of blood,” said Greene County Detective Warren Hensley of “Killer Siblings, Airing” Fridays at the 8 / 7c on oxygen. “She has an obvious head wound.”

The driveway she was found in led to a side-by-side maisonette over a carport and a small art gallery. When the police went up the stairs to the apartment level, they could see that the door to the right apartment was open.

“They went in to clear the apartment,” said Greene County Detective Kelly Edwards, “to make sure no active shooter or anyone else needed help.”

Instead, the police found the body of a man in the back bedroom who was later identified as William “Skip” Brown, 44. He had been shot several times.

They called for reinforcements, and by the time agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation arrived, it was getting dark. They started with Mendenhall’s body and immediately noticed something.

“Her head was facing the street away from the house,” Ohio BCI senior special agent Seth Hagaman told Killer Siblings. “It indicated that she was trying to escape the house when she was shot.”

Brown lay at the foot of his bed with multiple gunshot wounds; Investigators noticed a spent shotgun in the hallway outside the bedroom and three 0.9mm bullet casings on the bedroom floor – one of which was found to contain unknown male DNA. Shotgun pellets had hit the headboard, mattress, and floor; There were splatters of blood on the walls and in the closet just behind the foot of the bed.

He had four gunshot wounds in the chest; The coroner eventually determined that two were from a shotgun and two were from the .9-mm.

Mendenhall’s apartment, however, was completely undisturbed, as was the art gallery Brown maintained on the first floor of the building, which was mainly dedicated to the work of his grandfather, the photographer Axel Bahnsen. (Brown was also an amateur photographer himself, but made a living doing his roofing business.)

But because of the art gallery and some reported thefts on the property, Brown had an extensive camera system installed. Investigators were able to see a video of the moment Sherri Mendenhall was killed.

“On the surveillance footage, we see Sherri Mendenhall running just after 3am the night before,” explained Edwards. “She ran to the left to the street. She is just coming under the street lamp when we see her fall … then a male comes into view. He goes down the stairs from the apartments and goes left towards the street. “

The man has been described as a tall, skinny, white man carrying a black pistol – but his face couldn’t be seen because the cameras were on night mode. It was the only evidence of the perpetrators on the video system that indicated to investigators that whoever orchestrated the murders knew about the system.

From the video of Mendenhall’s murder, the investigators were able to determine one more thing: the shot that killed them must have come from the roof of the carport – 25 meters from the spot and 3 to 3 meters above the ground in front of the doors to the two apartments.

“It was a shot that potentially killed them instantly,” said Ohio BCI Special Agent David Hornyak. “It seemed like a Heckuva shot.”

Given the viciousness of the 3am attack on Skip Brown, investigators decided that he must have been the intended target and began looking for current and former employees and partners of his roofing company.

These former employees included Brown’s step-nephew Dustin Merrick, 25. Another contractor told investigators Brown called Dustin his “right hand man” and indicated that he was an integral part of the company – which is why he was surprised Dustin no longer worked there.

Investigators learned that Brown had hired Dustin to help him “get back on his feet” after struggling but had to fire him in the fall before the murders.

“Dustin believed Skip owed him about $ 400 in arrears at the time of his release,” Edwards said.

In an initial interview Hornyak and Edwards had with Dustin on January 20, 2017, he stated that his younger brother Bret Merrick, 24, had been with him on the night of the murders and stayed after the two that night had painted. He said Brown fired him for asking for more 9-5 hours, but that was “kind of the way he was”.

Dustin provided a DNA sample for “disposal” upon request and, when asked about some of the National Rifle Association certificates issued in-house, admitted that he had an undercover license for a .9mm pistol and more a .22 caliber rifle had a “Chinese Birdshot Pistol” (a shotgun made in China).

Dustin volunteered to have the shotgun removed from investigators for analysis and allowed Hornyak to examine the .9mm pistol, the magazine of which held 12 rounds; fully loaded, with one bullet in the chamber, the weapon normally lasted 13 rounds. But when Hornyak cleaned the gun, there were only nine bullets in it – four just short of the full one. Hornyak and Edwards both realized that they might be holding the murder weapon, as there were 4 used 0.9 mm cases at the crime scene.

On January 23, the crime lab confirmed that the DNA found on one of the 0.9mm cases in Brown’s bedroom belonged to Dustin, and confirmed the next day that the seized 0.9mm weapon was one of the Weapons that shot Brown and the gun that killed Mendenhall.

Since Bret was his brother’s only alibi and the brothers are known to be close, investigators suspected that it was Bret on the surveillance video of the crime scene – especially since he was taller and thinner than his older brother.

On January 24, 2017 – less than 10 days after the murder – a SWAT team from the Greene County Sheriffs Office arrested Dustin Merrick while Hagaman and another detective asked Bret Merrick to come to the Xenia Police Department for a volunteer interview.

Hagaman had what he called a “relaxed chat” about Skip Brown – until Hagaman told Bret that his brother was arrested in the murder. At that point Edwards and Hornyak took over the interview, and Edwards lied to Bret to convince him that Dustin had told the police that Bret had been the main shooter at Skip Brown’s house on the night of the murders.

Although he didn’t believe it at first, Edwards was so persuasive that Dustin involved Bret, the latter folded and Edwards and Hornyak said, “F – k this guy.”

He then made a confession to the police.

According to Bret, he went to Dustin’s house to paint around 9:00 p.m. on Jan. 14 – but his brother was already drunk when he arrived. They painted and drank until well after midnight when Bret heard the door open and close and went outside to see Dustin get into his car.

“He’s just talking about work: ‘This has to be done, it’s very important,'” Bret told Edwards and Hornyak. “I knew he was angry … I thought he was threatening Skip.”

Bret said he got in the car with his brother, “because I didn’t know if I could help him. I didn’t know if I could keep him out of trouble.” But when they parked well behind Brown’s house, Dusti got into his truck and pulled out a gun.

“Dustin had the shotgun on his back,” he added. “So I went to him and said, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ He had a .9mm … I had a .40 cal. Dustin gave me that .40 cal. He gave me the gun because Dustin was on a mission. I took his gun. I had the gun to make sure no one shot him. “

The two men climbed the roof of the carport to avoid Skip Brown’s surveillance cameras and entered his unlocked apartment. Bret said he was hiding behind a wall in the kitchen to protect his brother and watched Dustin advance into Skip Brown’s bedroom before hearing gunshots.

“And then I heard a woman,” said Bret. “She said, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?'”

Bret claimed he then shot in the door to scare Sheri Mendenhall, who was running down the stairs to the street. Dustin, he said, came out of the bedroom and followed him.

“Dustin takes the pistol and shoots at it and it falls,” he said. “He was scared that she knew who he was.”

Following his confession, Bret Merrick was arrested for the murders of Sherri Mendenhall and Skip Brown, and investigators conducted a legitimate search of his home, where they found his cell phone. Then, recorded shortly after the murders, Bret Merrick was singing and rapping.

“I always talk about a great game, but I never thought I could make it,” he half sang in the recording. “When it comes time to prove it, it turns out I’m really overdoing it . “

“Very crazy,” explained Edwards. “Bret had made a song about the murders. You cannot do that and have no evil in you. “

Dustin was eventually charged with murder, while Brett was charged with aiding and abetting murder, aiding and abetting difficult burglary, and aggravated assault on two counts. Both were charged with tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice. The two brothers faced the death penalty, but pleading deals were made in September 2018.

Dustin Merrick smiled and pleaded guilty to two cases of serious murder, two cases of serious burglary, one of falsification of evidence, and one of obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole for the murders, with a concurrent imprisonment of 11 years for burglary and three years for each of the other charges. Bret Merrick pleaded guilty to manslaughter on two counts and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He has no right to parole until 2042 – then his prison sentence ends.

Further information on this and similar cases can be found in “Killer Siblings, airing” Fridays at the 8 / 7c on Oxygen, or stream episodes here.

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