Evidence is still being analyzed in two high-profile crimes that occurred in Merrill over the past several months – a potentially deadly home arson in October 2015 and a homicide in January 2016.
Although arrests have made in each incident, charges have yet to be filed; leaving many unanswered questions. As Merrill Police Captain Corey Bennett explains, both investigations are still ongoing and the department is assuring proper precautions are met in processing a vast amount of evidence and information from each incident.
“Both investigations are still active and we are anticipating the analysis of evidence to be completed before we formally move forward,” Bennett explains.
“In cases like the arson(s), we are thankful that the suspect can be held on other charges and not place the public at risk. That gives us time to process the evidence associated with the case. If the suspect had been charged immediately, their attorney could make a motion for speedy trial before the evidence is analyzed.”
Bennett anticipates justice to prevail in both cases, but emphasizes the importance of the department taking proper precautions in processing the information and evidence in both cases.
On Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, the Merrill Police and Fire Departments responded to a report of a residential fire at 1900 E. 1st St.
This fire resulted in a total loss of property for the owners. Most important, the seven occupants were fortunate to escape with their lives. Given the close proximity of this scene to other crimes, namely vehicle entries, as well as the unknown nature of the fire, assistance was requested from the Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation (State Fire Marshal’s Office) and the Wisconsin State Patrol. All contributing agencies worked to process the scene in order to determine a cause and origin of the fire.
At the time of the fire, the Merrill Police Department was already engaged in several investigations of vehicle entries/thefts from vehicles in the general area. Additionally, investigators found that previous strings of vehicle entries/thefts from vehicles coincided with two vehicle arsons. Police officers were tasked with extra focus in the areas of these crimes.
Following the residential fire on Oct. 22, additional officers were deployed to conduct surveillance and to monitor the historic path of these crimes.
On the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 27, patrol officers observed a suspect in the area of these crimes. The suspect was stopped and initially arrested for an unrelated offense.
The suspect was interviewed at the Police Department and confessed to elements of all three arsons. The suspect will remain in custody and is charged with an unrelated offense. That suspect remains in custody at the Lincoln County Jail.
Then, on the afternoon of Jan. 12 of this year, officers of the Merrill Police Department responded to a residence in the 500 block of Wisconsin Street where 55-year-old Kevin Monroe was found deceased. The department initially declared the incident a suspicious death investigation and later declared it a homicide investigation.
A person of interest, 19-year-old Tyler Monroe, was located a short time later and was taken into custody on an unrelated probation warrant. According to jail records, Monroe also remains in the custody of the Lincoln County Jail.