Ford said in a McIntosh County case, an informant stole Ector’s car just as a suspect’s girlfriend told them a drug dealer was on the way to kill them. Ector talked the woman into driving them away.
“Merlin had that way of making people feel at ease…always in a good mood, always laughing.”
Merlin Ector, far right, at a crime scene. Ector was a smooth talking Georgia Bureau of Investigation undercover agent know for his humor and grace as well as his abilities.
Credit: courtesy of the family
Credit: courtesy of the family
“He was so natural at it because he was such a real person,” said retired GBI agent Cecil Hutchins. Ector took on the role of a drug trafficker to help Hutchins nail a dirty police officer.
After he was promoted to special agent, Ector worked a variety of cases in metro Atlanta, ranging from murder to healthcare fraud.
Retired Covington Police Captain Craig Treadwell said he and Ector worked cases together, one of them an execution-style murder. The two worked to locate an important witness, a drug dealer they knew only by his street name and dangerous reputation. They got a tip about the man being at a liquor store. Tradewell said Ector went inside to look for the witness, while he waited outside, gun in hand. When he looked into the store, he saw Ector laughing and hugging the man. It turned out Ector had gone to high school with him. He said they arrested and convicted four men for the murder.
Ector was barely 21 years old when he met Antoinette “Toni” Edge, who was working in a video store on Columbia Drive. Ector walked in with a date, took the date home and came back to the store to talk to Edge, who would become his wife.
She said other than his work, Ector spent most of his time focused on his family, including daughter Chelsea, 26, and son Chandler, 24. He began coaching youth football when Chandler was five, but continued coaching for years, taking particular interest in the kids few others believed in.
Ector was still in his 20′s when he got the first of three kidney transplants. In 2014, his third transplant began failing, and he began dialysis, though he continued his GBI career for another six years.
“He stayed in and did what he did had to do because he loved the GBI,” said Hutchins.
“Merlin was a great peacemaker, friend, co-worker and he truly loved his family,” said GBI internal affairs director Fred Mays. He quoted the gospel of Matthew to describe Ector: “'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God'.”
Partly to support Toni as she battled breast cancer, Ector administered dialysis to himself at home in his final months.
“Through his many health challenges, he was still a servant who relied on his inner strength and faith in God to carry him through,” said Clarence Cox, past president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
He is survived by his wife, children, his father, stepmother Claretha Ector and sibilings.
Visitation will be Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory, 4347 Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur. There will be a graveside service Sept. 23 for family and close friends.