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A Desperate William Merrill Pleads For Help: “My Wife’s Been Shot”; the 911 Call

| February 24, 2012

The House on Covington Lane the morning of the shooting. (© FlaglerLive)

In a voice broken by sobs, gasps for breath and desperation–a voice that carries no hint of a man who’d intentionally meant harm–a clearly devastated and pleading William Merrill tells the 911 dispatcher to send help after describing how he accidentally shot his wife, Stefanie, in the bathroom while she was giving a bath to their 3-year-old daughter.

It was almost seven minutes between the moment the dispatcher picked up the call and the moment paramedics walked into the house–seven minutes in which William is heard begging the dispatcher for help and following her directions in attempts to staunch his wife’s wounds in her chest and out her back.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office released the recording of the 911 call, which William placed at 9:17 Tuesday morning (Feb. 21) from his home at 94 Covington Lane in North Palm Coast. Stefanie was still breathing but falling in and out of consciousness as he spoke to the 911 dispatcher. Speaking out of breath, he answered questions the dispatcher was posing, followed her directions, and spoke to his wife, imploring her to “please, stay with me baby. Stay with me.”

William Merrill, 32, was charged Wednesday with manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (he had a prior conviction on a grand theft charge), and held at the Flagler County jail on $200,000 bail.

The Full 911 Call[media id=265 width=400 height=300]

The full seven-minute  exchange between Merrill and the dispatcher is transcribed below:

“I need emergency medical services please, hurry up, my wife’s been shot,” Merrill says as soon as the dispatcher answers.

“Did she shoot herself or was it an accident?”

“No ma’am, it was an accident.”

“It’s an accident?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“OK, where is she bleeding?”

“She’s bleeding out of her chest and her back. Please hurry.”

“OK, we’ll go ahead and get them there. Can you go ahead and tell me if she is breathing?”

“Yes she is but sort of not really. She’s falling out of consciousness. Please hurry.”

“OK, all right. They’re going to go ahead and send somebody out. I just need you to answer some questions for me, OK?”


“How did this happen?”

“I was holding one of the guns, and just looking at it and talking to her about it, she was talking about the laser light on it, about it being bright, and I pulled the trigger, it’s never loaded. Oh my god, oh my god. Please hurry.”

“OK, all right, they’re on their way, OK?”

[William says something unintelligible.]

“Get a wet towel, OK, a moist towell, go ahead and get that for me right now.”

“OK, a wet towel. All right. Please, my daughter is in the tub. My god.” [The daughter is heard exclaiming “towel!”] “I got a wet towel. What do I need to do?

“OK, it’s moist? I want you to go ahead and put it where the wound is.”

“OK. The wound is on the front of her chest but it’s on her back, too. Where do I put it first?”

“OK, just put it on the top right now.”

“On her chest?”

“Yeah, on her chest first.”

“OK, I’m going to roll her over. Oh my god, baby girl, please, stay with me baby. Stay with me.”

“OK, you’re rolling her over?”

“Yes but I don’t know where the entrance is. Oh my god. Uh. I’m trying. Ok.”

“OK, where’s the weapon?”

“It’s on her left side. Please.”

“The weapon is on her left hand side?”

“No no no, no, the wound. The wound is [garbled]  right side. ”

“OK. You rolled her on her—”


“They’re on their way, OK?”

“She’s dying, oh my goodness, please hurry.”

“They’re on their way sir, they’re going as fast as they can. What’s your name?”

“My name is [blanked out]”

“OK, is anybody else in the house with you?”

“Yes, it’s my daughter.”

“Your daughter? How old is your daughter?”

“My daughter she’s, she’s, uh, she’s 3. Oh, my goodness, please hurry.”


“Oh my god, please hurry.”

“OK, OK, they’re on their way [blanked out]. Do you know of any medical conditions?”

“No she doesn’t have any medical conditions.”

“No medical conditions?”

“No, ma’am.”

“How old is she?”

“She’s 20—she’s 30, she

‘s 30. Come on baby, stay with me. It’s OK.”

“She’s still breathing?”

“I’m sorry, what’s that?”

“She’s still breathing?”

“Yeah she’s still breathing [garbled]”

“OK, all right, OK, OK. Are her eyes open?”

“Her eyes are open, yes ma’am. Stay with me baby, stay with me. [Blanked out.] Stay with me, that’s a good girl.”

“OK, keep her as calm as possible.”

[The 3-year-old daughter is audibly asking a question as Merrill kisses his wife.]

“Baby girl I’m just taking care of mama, OK?” [He sobs. The dispatcher is speaking to a third party.] “There’s no wound. She’s not bleeding out of the front. Should I check the back? Huh?”

“Did you already go ahead and, you rolled her over once, right?”

“Yes, I rolled her over [unintelligible].”

“You don’t see any bleeding from her chest?”

“No. She has breast implants. But it looks like it went it, hit a bone, and shot out, went to the left side of her body and came out of her back on the left side. And there’s stuff that’s coming out of her body, please hurry.” [He sobs.] “Please baby, stay with me, come on baby. Stay with me. Stay with me, OK? That’s a good girl. I love you.”

“The shot came out where [blanked out]?”

“The shot came out on her left side of her back. Oh, my god.”

“On the left side of her back?”

“Yes ma’am. Stay with me, baby. Stay with me, stay with me, OK? Please Stefanie, please, please. [blanked out.]

“This is really important. I need you to focus for me for a second. You have a 3-year=-old baby in the house.”


“I need to know where that gun is. You need to get the gun away from her, and far.”

“Oh, no ma’am, the gun is up in the closet. Yes ma’am.”

“The gun is in the closet now?”

“Yes ma’am, no, I mean, I was standing in the closet. That’s when [unintelligible] with it. Oh, my goodness.”

“OK, up high?”

“Yes ma’am.”


“Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.”

“OK, where’s the baby?”

“She’s in the bathtub.”

“She’s in the bathtub?”

4:27 “I was giving her a bath.”


“Yes ma’am. Stay with me baby. [blanked out] You’re with me? Stay with me, come on, baby, please breathe, please breathe, ma’am [blanked out].”

“Yes, they’re on their way, they’re speeding as fast as they can get there OK?”

“There’s a fire station so close to here.”

“I know they’re on their way [blanked out]”

[blanked out]

“Come on baby, stay with me.”

“Are your doors open?”

“Yes ma’am, they’re open, they can come straight in.”

“OK [blanked out], need you to do me a favor, I need you to go outside. Can you go outside?”

“I don’t want to leave my wife.”

The dispatcher talks to a third party: “He doesn’t want to leave his wife, he’s crying.”

Merrill says something unintelligible as he cries. “There’s a black truck in the driveway. Oh my god. [blanked out.]”

“You have a black truck in the driveway?”

“Yes a black Toyota Tundra. Come on [blanked out] in the garage, come on. I took my dog out, please just have them get here.”

“They are, they’re coming.”

“Oh, oh, come on baby, stay with me, stay with me [blanked out], please, no, please, no [he kisses her repeatedly].”

The dispatcher calls out Merrill’s name. “Is she still breathing?”

“No ma’am, please, help. What can I do? What can I do?”

“OK, they’re, they’re, they should be, like, there.”

“I know, but what should I do? Please tell me [unintelligible].”

“OK, you have the towel, right? The moist towel?”

“The towel is underneath her, yes ma’am.”

“OK, do you have another one?”

“Yes ma’am, I’ll get another one.”

“Go ahead and put that on top.”


“OK, OK, Oh, stay with me baby, please. [The recording is erratic.] There’s nobody here. Please help me.”

[Six minutes and 49 seconds into the call, paramedics arrive.]

“OK, talk to them, OK?”

“OK, bye.”

“All right, b-bye.”

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19 Responses for “A Desperate William Merrill Pleads For Help: “My Wife’s Been Shot”; the 911 Call”

  1. Yeah, that was rough to listen to. I give so much credit to my fiance’ for being a first responder, I dont think I could handle that even though I am a nurse. What on earth was he thinking? I just dont understand people. My thoughts are with her family and her babies :(

  2. Heart breaking says:

    This is so sad. I wish we could hear the wife’s side of the story.

  3. Jessica Knight via Facebook says:

    just plain sick , what is going on here in PC I hear things left and right these days here . My heart girls out to her family and her kids

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sad, but why say at the outset “My wife’s been shot”! Why not, oh my God I shot my wife by accident. Be a man plead guilty and take your punishment. For someone who decides to hoard an arsenal of 25 guns the AK 47 being stolen at that you think he would at-least know not to point it at anyone let alone his wife. He should have never been cut loose to begin with.

    • unfortunate says:

      Anonymous, this is terribly sad but I have to agree. Wow, I don’t know them this is so incredibly sad. I won;t say this was NOT an accident but how could one be so incredibly… either irresponsible or just plain stupid. BUT EITHER WAY… AT THIS POINT WE CANNOT JUDGE!
      Nothing is ever that bad… EVER. God Bless the entire family and the husband, remember… INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY…. we would never know how we would react in crisis, and good chance NOT the same…. I will pray what is right will be. This is so horrible. NO matter what I pray for the parents, children, family, husband and friends… they all need it now. This is horrible. Let’s take this time not to judge and pray for Stefanie’s loved ones. They need support, love and a lot of prayer.

    • Paul squires says:


  5. Debra Nanus Bryant via Facebook says:

    this city of PC I once loved….so much sadness, crime, drugs…..

  6. Geezer Butler says:

    It’s true that we shouldn’t judge, but this person wasn’t supposed to own any firearms after joining the ranks of convicted felons. But this was a mere formality for this abuser – he thumbed his nose and continued to acquire more and more guns.

    His (late) wife kept quiet about his continued ownership of guns, despite his violent propensities, and having a little child in the house. All the elements were in place for this banana to flip his lid. And he did.
    At least the child was physically unharmed.

    People with psychotic tendencies, and of poor moral fiber should not even own a sling-shot.
    They shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car either due to likely road-rage incidents.

    Even if William Merrill is being truthful – he is criminally responsible for his wife’s death.
    He was guilty just by handling his AK – something that he was prohibited to possess.

    I hope that this tragedy will spur would-be victims into reaching out for help.
    Abusers all boil over one day.

  7. DC3 says:

    Debra, I agree. No jobs = crime and drugs.

  8. Paul squires says:

    I am absolutely devastated! I will always remember how kind and beautiful she was. I was fortunate enough to get to spend a lot of good times and laughs with her. I lived next door for a year n a half. I was married into the family. Our families did everything together every single day. I remember us having so many good times. I am overwhelmed with memories that keep popping up.She’s a very special woman who I loved. I struggle to understand Gods reason for this…I can’t find an answer..I pray for each and everyone involved. I will forever be affected by this tragic loss. R.I.P

  9. "My Daily Rant" says:

    Remember the old Palm Coast,before we became a city. There was very little crime it was a truely nice place to live.Now were a city crime has gone way up houses built with no one to buy, strip malls every where empty and no jobs.Who to blame our local goverment they allowed all this building knowing there wasnt enough indrestry or jobs to support that many people.Our world class beaches now clutterd in spots with condos that wont sell.Look at european village a haven for crime.Will we ever get our old Palm Coast back probly not but putting new people in office might help.

  10. kelsi says:

    he said he pulled the trigger y would someone do that!! i did know them n he was aggressive towards her wen he got mad!! her kids are good kids and she was an awesome mother!!! stef was a wonderful woman rip girly i love u!!

  11. just me says:

    This does NOT sound to me like a man that intentionally shot his wife….my heart aches for her parents and her husband who now has to life with this weather or not he meant it and his parents and the children this young couple shared.Rest in Peace you are now an Angel of God to watch over your children from up above.

  12. Old Friend says:

    I actually knew both of them from jr high/high school in Tennessee, everyone here is so very sad at the loss of this precious life. Stefanie was a great person. I pray that this was truly an accident. BUT with that being said you NEVER NEVER NEVER pull a trigger regardless if you think it’s loaded or not, and you NEVER NEVER NEVER point a gun at someone unless your planning to shoot them. My heart aches for what their little girl had to witness. Please pray for their children, and pray that Stefanie knew God, and that Carson gets forgiven, because none of us are his judge God is.

  13. Haw Creek Girl says:

    FlaglerLive, with all due respect, please take this down. This is too painful and intimate for the families to ever 3 year old to ever have published. She will endure and has endured more than we can imagine. May God be with them all.

  14. Haw Creek Girl says:

    btw, I apologize for not clarifying but I mean take down the 911 recording released by the SO. I have received 911 and dispatched 911 calls. Many would break your heart and warp your mind without the grace of our Saviour. None, not one, never ever was this heartbreaking with a 3 and 6 and 30 yo victim. I also want to say Thank you to my father. Served as a law enforcement officer my whole life, every night, every day and every end of shift…..when he took his gun belt off and laid it by the bed…..he unloaded his pistol every single time. Because he loved me, he cared for me and he was responsible and he believed the 2nd amendment was meant to be respected and he had fought in WWII to earn/keep it. It was a pistol, 6 bullets, each unloaded one at a time. Not an AK47 with a laser and a clip that pops out. Thank you, Daddy. I only wish this lil girl’s daddy would have done what you did for me.

    • Balard123 says:

      Key element to the 911 call

      “OK, where’s the baby?”
      “She’s in the bathtub.”
      “She’s in the bathtub?”
      4:27 “I was giving her a bath.”
      Who gives a child a bath and then pulls out a AK-47 in the middle of the process?
      Why was an AK-47 in a closet (closet in a bathroom?) with 2 small children running around the house and may even have used the bathroom in question?

      I hope the answers come out

  15. Anonymous says:

    I knew both of them! I worked with Stef years ago and am sickened by this. This was terrible and who really ever points a gun at anyone…..loaded or NOT!!! He has no common sense on gun safety! He is still responsible for her death even if found an accident! So senseless and for those poor kids who will never know their mother and how much she loved them:( My thoughts are with them and her family.

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