Disbarred attorney accused of killing mom arrested at Tennessee thrift store

A disbarred Cobb County attorney who is accused of killing his mother in DeKalb County was arrested in Tennessee on Monday afternoon, authorities confirmed.

A disbarred Cobb County attorney who is accused of killing his mother in DeKalb County was arrested in Tennessee on Monday afternoon, authorities confirmed.

Richard Merritt was taken into custody at Southern Thrift Store in Nashville, U.S. Marshals spokesman Frank Lempka told AJC.com. He had changed his appearance, including growing out his hair in the back, Lempka added.

“I am grateful for the dedication of everyone who assisted in the eight-month-long search for Richard Vinson Merritt,” Cobb District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes said. “Over these many months and particularly as the situation quickly evolved over the weekend, members of the Cobb District Attorney’s Office were integral in supporting the U.S. Marshals task force.”

RELATED: Disbarred lawyer sought by police after mother found dead

Richard Merritt was arrested in Tennessee on Monday.
Richard Merritt was arrested in Tennessee on Monday.

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Merritt had been scheduled to report to custody Feb. 1 after pleading guilty to theft and elder abuse in Cobb, AJC.com previously reported. His sentence was on the condition that he turn himself in, Holmes said.

“As we all know, he did not turn himself in as ordered,” Holmes said.

Merritt disappeared after allegedly removing his ankle monitor.

A day later, his mother, Shirley Merritt, was found dead at her home in the 1500 block of Planters Row in Tucker, DeKalb police said. Her son had been living there while out on bond.

Right after he fled, he was spotted on surveillance video at a gas station near Cartersville, U.S. Marshals previously said. Since he had taken off, he immediately became the primary murder suspect.

MORE: Where is the disbarred lawyer accused of killing his mom?

Merritt had pleaded guilty to settling civil lawsuits without telling his clients and keeping the money for himself. He used the money taken from clients, some elderly or filing medical malpractice claims, to buy a Porsche or go on vacation, investigators said.

In addition to his 15 years in prison, he was sentenced to 15 years of probation and ordered to pay a restitution of $454,706.

Merritt surrendered his license to practice law in January 2018, according to records from the State Bar of Georgia. He was booked into jail soon after.

U.S. Marshals handed Merritt over to Nashville Metro police after the arrest and he was booked into the Davidson County Jail.

Merritt waived extradition to DeKalb County on Wednesday. Holmes said Merritt will also be returned to Cobb to revoke his probation.

Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren released a statement shortly after the news broke of the arrest, praising the work done by investigators.

“This is another great example of solid investigative work and law enforcement partners working together,” Warren said.