DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — U.S. Marshals have launched a nationwide search for a disbarred Cobb County attorney wanted for killing his mother.
Richard Merritt, 44, pleaded guilty three weeks ago to ripping off clients and asked a judge if he could have time to get his affairs in order.
Merritt was supposed to report to the Cobb County Jail to turn himself in last Friday.
Police say that instead, Merritt cut his ankle monitor and stabbed his mother, Shirley Merritt, to death at her home in DeKalb County. Police say Merritt then stole his mother's car and took off.
On Saturday, U.S. Marshals released a new image of Merritt at a gas station moments after he cut his ankle monitor. Authorities did not say which gas station the photo was taken at.
They are also offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.
Channel 2's Chris Jose received a statement from Meritt's lawyer on Saturday.
Marshals are going through Merritt's past and present contacts all over the country.
Jose spoke to Frank Lempka, one of the U.S. marshals assigned to the search for Merritt.
"He probably knows people all over the country, being a lawyer," Lempka said. "He could be anywhere. We think he may be anywhere in the country."
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Court documents show a judge sentenced Merritt to 30 years -- 15 in prison -- for ripping off personal injury clients and stealing settlement money.
Lempka said after Merritt stabbed his mother to death, he stole her 2009 Lexus RX 350, with Georgia license plate CBV6004.
Phil Holloway, a defense attorney familiar with the case, said Merritt's contacts in other states may be under surveillance.
"This has the earmarks of someone who is desperate," Holloway said. "And desperate people can do desperate things."
Lempka said there is some concern Merritt could seek revenge on his former clients, who reported him to police.
"We don't know what's going on with him, but he's very unpredictable," Lempka said. "He could hurt or kill someone else at this point."
Lempka said at the moment, there is no information suggesting Merritt has a hit list.
Cox Media Group