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Thanksgiving Day murder suspect Paul Merhige busted in Florida by 'America's Most Wanted' tip

January 3, 2010

Paul Merhige, accused of shooting his cousing Makayla Sitton and 3 other family members on Thanksgiving Day, was caught in a motel in the Florida Keys.

Thanks to 'America's Most Wanted,' Florida 's Paul Michael Merhige, accused of shooting his four family members, including 6-year-old cousin Makayla Sitton, on Thanksgiving day, has been arrested.

A tip from a TV viewer led to the arrest of Merhige, 35, in Monroe County on Saturday night, CNN reports.

Authorities at a news conference revealed that the tipster recognized Merhige and his car from 'America's Most Wanted.' The suspect had reportedly checked into the Edgewater Lodge, in Florida's Middle Keys, on Dec. 2 under the name John Baca.

According to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Service, Merhige paid a cash advance of two weeks for his room on the motel's second floor. Presumably, he paid with the $12,000 he had withdrawn prior to the slaying. 

Merhige had also covered his blue Toyota Camry and switched the tag with that of another car he owned.

Following the tip, police sped off to the Monroe County motel where they found Merhige on a computer. Authorities say he did not resist arrest.

Merhige reportedly shot several of his family members while attending a Thanksgiving dinner in Jupiter, Fla., on Nov. 26. His 6-year-old cousin Makayla Sitton (in bed at the time), twin sisters Carla Merhige and a pregnant Lisa Knight, 33, and aunt Raymonde Joseph, 76, were all killed.

Two other guests, Patrick Knight and Clifford Gebara, were wounded at the gathering, which was attended by 17 of Merhige's relatives.

"I'm elated that the monster is in the cage," Jim Sitton, father of  Makayla Sitton told The Palm Beach Post. "We don't have to worry about him killing my wife or coming back for my father-in-law. It doesn't bring my daughter back, but at least this chapter is over."
 
Family members told police that Merhige, who was taking the anxiety medication Ativan, had long-standing resentment against some of his relations.

But  according to Sitton, prior to the killings Merhige sat through three hours of dinner and sing-a-longs around the piano with no sign of what was to come. 

After the shootings, he reportedly heard Merhige say that he had waited 20 years to kill his relatives.

Merhige faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is expected to face the grand jury within 30 days.

The U.S. Marshals Service recently added Merhige to its list of the top 15 most-wanted fugitives. They offered a reward of $25,000 for information leading to his arrest.

Source: Daily News

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