Murder of Shirley Merritt by her son Richard Merritt investigated on American Monster

Mugshot of Richard Merritt
Richard Merritt is serving a life sentence for killing Shirley Merritt. Pic credit: GA Dept. of Corrections

American Monster is examining the brutal stabbing of Shirley Merritt, who was killed by her adult son, Richard Merritt, at her home in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Richard Merritt was a disgraced attorney who was caught stealing from his clients in Cobb County, Georgia. On February 1, 2019, he was expected to report to Cobb County Jail to begin serving a 15-year sentence.

At the time, Richard was living with his 77-year-old mother, Shirley Merritt, in Dekalb County. On the morning he was supposed to start his jail sentence, Shirley cooked her son a last meal just before he stabbed her to death with a kitchen knife.

Shirley was later found by family members lying lying face down at the bottom of the basement stairs. She had been stabbed multiple times, and there was a blade sticking out of her right cheek.

There was also a 35 lb. dumbbell with blood and hair lying near the body.

Richard was wearing an ankle bracelet, so the cops knew he was in the house when the murder happened. After killing his mother, he stole her car, drove to Cobb County, passed the jail, and continued on north. He soon removed the ankle bracelet, which was later found at a truck stop.

Richard Merritt hid from the cops for months after killing Shirley Merritt

The killer was in hiding for eight months but was eventually apprehended in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt University Police stumbled upon Shirley’s car with a stolen license plate from another vehicle.

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Richard was going by the name Mick Malveaux and was using a fake Louisiana driving license. He had been living out of his car and sometimes with a woman he had met on an online dating app.

The murderer was finally taken into custody without incident on September 30. He was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony.

Richard claimed he was innocent. He said two men armed with pistols had entered his mother’s home and killed her in front of him. They then allowed him to go free for unknown reasons.

Richard Merritt convicted of killing Shirley Merritt

In May 2023, Richard Merritt was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole.

A cousin of the Merritt family, Mike Jefcoat, told the sentencing court, “He couldn’t stand the idea of somebody with an ego as big as his being sent to prison… His whole life has been a pretext. I just want the court to know what an evil person he is in the eyes of his family.”

American Monster airs Sundays at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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