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Suspicious Shooting: Husband Kills 30-Year-Old Wife on Covington Lane in Palm Coast

| February 21, 2012

The scene aeround the house at 94 Covington Lane at noon today. (c FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 3:30 p.m.

Either Monday night or Tuesday morning, William Merrill, 32, was reportedly inspecting a rifle at his home at 94 Covington Lane in Palm Coast when his weapon went off. His 30-year-old wife Stefanie Merrill was struck in the chest and killed. The incident was reported to the sheriff’s office at 9:17 this morning.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office detectives, including a K-9 unit, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were at the scene, investigating what the sheriff’s office is calling a suspicious incident.

Eva Larsson has been a neighbor, in a house across the street from 94 Covington, for the past nine years. She had gone to work around 9 a.m. this morning, returned home around lunch. She came out of the house to the sound of a news helicopter above and the sight of cop cars lining Covington, unaware, and wondering what had happened. She broke down in tears when she was told, stunned.

“I talk to them all the time. I talked to them not long ago,” Larsson said, remembering seeing them Sunday. “Oh, this is awful.” She said the family was renting the house for the past year or so. (The owners of the house live in Harrisburg, Penn. They built the house in 1990.) “The man is an excellent person. It must be an accident.”

“He was always out here with his kids, he was a really nice guy,” Kandy Dauvenspeck, another neighbor and resident in the area for the past nine years, said. “Real nice kids, real nice dad.”

William Merrill, in a 2007 Flagler County Sheriff's Office photo.

William Merrill is reportedly a car dealer at a Daytona Beach dealership near I-95. The sheriff’s office was terming the shooting “suspicious” possibly because of Merrill’s prior record. In 2007, Merrill was arrested and jailed in Flagler County on charges of grand theft, use or display of a weapon during the commission of a felony, and probation violation.

The red-tile-roofed, 2,100-square-foot house sits on a large corner lot as Covington curves past Chelsea Court, its yard much larger than most in the area. A tire swing hangs from two pine trees near the edge of the lot. The well-kept back-yard and back porch are a picture of middle-class comforts: large barbecue grill, wicker furniture under a (stilled) ceiling fan–table, four chairs–lots of children’s toys, among them a pink jeep and a skateboard (with handle), a yellow beach bucket.

The couple has two young children: a 3-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. The family owns an American bulldog that was often seen in the backyard with the children. Palm Coast Animal Control took in the dog for the duration of the investigation.

Flagler County Emergency Medical personnel pronounced Mrs. Merrill dead at the scene, a spokeswoman for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said. The medical examiner arrived at the scene at 1:07 p.m.

The investigation was continuing at mid-afternoon Tuesday.

[This is a developing story.]

The backyard. Click on the image for larger view. (FlaglerLive)

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigator on the back porch of the house. Click on the image for larger view. (FlaglerLive)

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26 Responses for “Suspicious Shooting: Husband Kills 30-Year-Old Wife on Covington Lane in Palm Coast”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Either way the case goes, sad to read and hear about it. Is it just me or have there been an alarming number of firearm incidents in this town lately?

  2. roco says:

    I hope this case is handled better by Fleming then the Fisher case..

  3. Anonymous says:

    DID I JUST READ THIS CORRECTLY ” William Merrill is reportedly a car dealer at a Daytona Beach dealership near I-95. The sheriff’s office was terming the shoorting “suspicious” possibly because of Merrill’s prior record. In 2007, Merrill was arrested and jailed in Flagler County on charges of grand theft, use or display of a weapon during the commission of a felony, and probation violation.” WOW, and is this guy was in posession of a firearm. Was he a Felon?

  4. Karen says:

    Very disturbing. It always amazes me how people preceive these men to be good guys, husbands, and gathers. Truth is you really don’t know how people are, behind closed doors.

  5. w.ryan says:

    We’ve heard this story before. I’m very saddened for their children. My condolences to the families involved.

  6. Barb says:

    Curious as to why they are saying “either Monday night or Tuesday morning” this happened. It wasn’t reported until 9:17 am this morning…are they suggesting he didn’t call emergency personnel immediately?

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Barb, we initially reported the incident as having taken place Tuesday morning, but from the information provided by the sheriff’s office up until then, that was an assumption we shouldn’t have made. The sheriff’s office is unfortunately not forthcoming with basic information, and repeated calls and emails to its PIO to verify that sort of thing get us nowhere.

      • Unknown says:

        I live off of palm harbor pkwy & heard all the police going by ..i heard the firetrucks & the ambulance go by …this is so sad I heard the mom was giving the baby girl a bath when the gun went off…i just dont know what this world is coming to …CRAZY .

  7. Anonymous says:

    Okay this is is really sad and follows up on my original post asking if this guy was a Felon. This is an excerpt from another article that is online. ” William, who some neighbors said goes by his middle name, Carson, has a criminal record that includes weapons charges, though they were dropped by the State Attorney’s Office.

    He pleaded no contest to charges of grand theft for stealing supplies from his employer at the time, Fogleman Builder, and selling them out of his house. He served 90 days in the Flagler County Inmate Facility and three years probation.

    Weapons charges were filed because “it was found out that Mr. Merrill was a convicted felon,” according to a Bunnell Police Department arrest report. But that charge was dismissed by the State Attorney’s Office for “no information,” spokeswoman Klare Ly said.” The law is enforced in a weird kind of way in this town and always backfires in the end.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    Lets do not blame FlaglerLive for the incomplete information he “can barely extract from this Sheriff”.
    I would even be careful of any missleading information provided as well, nothing surprises me anymore.
    We have to appreciate the hard work done here, trying to inform us lately on these crimes, by Pierre as well as DBNJ Frank Fernandez. Can we imagine this almost impossible task?

  9. Deborah Curbow-Valente via Facebook says:

    Thoughts and prayers go out to the children, the rest of the family, and even the dog who has no clue what is going on…

  10. Barb says:

    Thanks for the reply Flagler Live. I suggest we slow down a little and let the FCSO complete their investigation.

  11. Initialjoe says:

    “Honey, stand still while I clean my gun and it points directly at you.”

  12. Anonymous says:

    Heis my cousin…I love them both dearly…though I haven’t talked with him…it has to be an accident, just has to be….I never saw violence..they loved each other doubt this was a freak accident!

    • Anonymous says:

      I have known carson for 25 years and Steph for about 15. I know he is not a killer, is he careless maybe so. Besides if your gonna kill your wife why would you do it standing over your child. If you knew all the details of his priors you would not make him out to be a career criminal either. I am not excusing them in any way, but they can be deceiving.

      • anonymous2 says:

        How can you(anonymous) try to justify that he is not a killer by saying “Besides if your gonna kill your wife why would you do it standing over your child”. He is obviously CRAZY if he killed his wife. and If he is CRAZY he wasn’t worried about anything at the time obviously! He couldn’t have been thinking clearly if he killed his wife so he definitely was not worried about his child.

  13. BE HONEST says:

    Wait if he has an arrest and a record than how did he have possession of a riffle. Omg! Freak accident or not he broke the law just having this gun. Why are we releasing him to the public.

  14. jlo says:

    They were very much in love. When Stef wasn’t around he talked about her with such respect and she would talk to me about the love she had for him and how she adored him. When I first met Carson he came over to our house after he got off work with a box of baby clothes bungied to his scooter(his car was broke at time)brand new stuff with price tags still on it and donated many more boxes after that for my new baby. Anytime someone was upset or a child hurt he would approach the situation with such compassion, he’s a very, very caring person!! Whenever he comes over he takes right to the children and becomes their buddy. Seriousy(Karen)if you don’t know them, don’t judge-this was a complete accident and something he has to live with for the rest of his life. Let his wife rest peacefully by not judging please.

  15. Skwow says:

    I won’t speculate one way or another. This whole tragedy just goes to show how the lives of so many can be forever shattered in the blink of an eye. So don’t ever take your loved ones for granted. Life doesn’t give very many second chances.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t look like he’s too upset in that fresh mugshot. This guy had 25 plus guns. Your telling me he didn’t know what he was doing pointing a loaded gun capable of cutting a person in half at his wife while she bathed their child. In the street AK47’s are called Choppers because they chop there target down. No firearm education in the world was going set this guy straight. First rule, Felon can’t own a gun, he broke everyone imaginable. Really surprised Manslaughter and not Murder. It’s not a mistake when you point and pull the trigger on a loaded weapon you shouldn’t have to begin with.

    [Note: the mug shot dates from his 2007 arrest. He was booked this evening. We'll have the more recent mug shot up soon.--FL]

  17. Anonymous says:

    @FlaglerLive – “Note: the mug shot dates from his 2007 arrest. He was booked this evening. We’ll have the more recent mug shot up soon.–FL]” Was referring to the new booking.

  18. Marty says:

    In Friday’s report, Medical Examiner says it’s a homicide. So they charge him with manslaughter. This stinks. Where is Nancy Grace when you need her?

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