Nov 30, 2009
Thanksgiving Massacre Leaves 4 Dead: Suspect Paul Michael Merhige (Video/Photos)
Four people including a six-year-old child, Makalya Sitton, were shot to death during a family Thanksgiving gathering. Four people including a child in bed were shot to death during a family Thanksgiving gathering. Read more on the suspect on the run, Paul Michael Merhige below.
Police said approximately 17 relatives were gathered for Thanksgiving when the shootings were reported around 10 p.m. Thursday in Jupiter, a small town 90 miles north of Miami.
Jupiter Police Sgt. Scott Pascarella said they are searching for the gunman, Paul Michael Merhige, 35, of Miami. Merhige is a cousin of the 6-year-old victim, McKayla Sitton, police said.
Other family members killed included Raymonde Joseph, 76, Carla Merhige and Lisa Merhige. The two women were 33-year-old twin sisters, and sisters of Paul Merhige the shooter.
A fifth victim, Patrick McKnight, was being treated at a hospital but no word on his condition.
Neighbors reportedly dialed 911 after 10 p.m. Then police received a second 911 call from someone within the home. Pascarella says the shootings took place inside the house.
“What led to this incident, we’re not quite sure,” said Pascarella. “It did not appear there was any altercation prior to this shooting.”
The home was owned by Jim Sitton, a photojournalist for WPTV-TV and father of the little girl Makayla that was killed. Sitton told WPTV his daughter was in bed when she was shot. He was at the party at the time of the shooting but was not wounded.
Sitton told local media that his daughter was supposed to perform Friday in a holiday production of the Nutcracker.
“God packed a lot of sweetness into that little body,” Sitton said. “She’s just our life. I don’t know how we are ever going to recover.”
The relationship between Sitton and Paul Merhige was not clear at this time.
Police across South Florida and the U.S. Marshals Service were searching for Merhige. Pascarella said Merhige is believed to be driving a blue 2007 4-door Toyota Camry with Florida license plate W42 7JT.
“The word we’re trying to get out to the public is that this individual is considered armed and dangerous,” said Pascarella.