Paragraph six reads: “Merhige’s troubled mental history
which included severe depression and
obsessive-compulsive disorder dated back to a nervous breakdown
while he was an honors student at the University of Miami, said his mother,
Paragraph 15 reads: “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 was doing so
Man accused of killing four relatives in Jupiter had long history of
mental illness, threats against
Palm Beach Post Staff WriterPalm Beach Post Staff
Updated: 4:55 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, 2009
Michael Merhige, accused of killing four relatives at a Thanksgiving dinner in
Jupiter, had threatened to kill family members before and often refused to take
medication prescribed to treat his longtime mental illness, according to court
records and Merhige’s mother.
In April 2006, during a fight with his
sister at their parents’ house outside Miami, Merhige told the sister “I’m going
to slit your throat,” according to a domestic violence complaint filed by the
sister, Carla Merhige.
He added that “this time I’m not going to go by
myself,” referring to an earlier suicide attempt he had made, according to his
Seeking a restraining order, Carla Merhige wrote that
her brother’s threat to slit her throat 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 35-year-old brother at their
cousin’s Jupiter home. He is still on the loose and being hunted by law
Merhige’s troubled mental history which
included severe depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder dated back to
a nervous breakdown while he was an honors student at the University of Miami,
said his mother, Carole Merhige.
“Everything was perfect until he was
19,” she said in an interview today.
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
Merhige appeared to have made preparations before Thursday’s
massacre, during which a witness recalled him saying: “I’ve been waiting 20
years to do this.”
Last month, Merhige bought at least two firearms, his
mother said, and last week he asked his parents for his passport, which they had
kept at their home in the Miami area.
Unable to hold down a job, he had
been financially supported by his parents since his mental troubles
Those troubles culminated when gunshots flashed Thursday night at
his cousin’s home on Via Veracruz in Jupiter. Police say Merhige killed Carla
and her twin sister, Lisa Knight, both 33; his aunt, Raymonde Joseph, 76; and
his cousin’s 6-year-old daughter, Makayla Sitton.
A candlelight vigil is
planned for the twin sisters, Carla and Lisa, tonight in Miami.
years Paul Merhige had become more independent and was living by himself in an
apartment in the Coral Gables area, 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 was doing so correctly.
said she hopes her son is captured soon, adding that she has no idea where he
is. When Paul Merhige asked his parents for his passport, she said, he didn’t
mention travel plans.
Most upsetting to her, Carole Merhige said, was the
ease with which he was able to purchase handguns.
“A person with a
history of mental problems should not be able to get a gun,” she said. “This is
such a big country. Why isn’t there a database of mentally ill
She and her husband, who lost two daughters to their troubled
son, do not plan to attend tonight’s vigil.
“We’re devastated,” she said.
“We’re just taking it day by day.”