Local and national media outlets have recently begun to publish stories stating that Philip Merrill's death was a suicide. Mr. Merrill was reported missing Saturday, June 10, after his sailboat was found near Breezy Point in Calvert County. His body was found near Poplar Island on the eastern shore on Monday, June 19.
The Washington Post, in an article today, cited an anonymous source who is reported to have stated, "Obviously, he took his own life." The Merrill family also released a statement on Tuesday, June 20, that appeared on the on-line version of "The Capital." In the statement, they portray Mr. Merrill as being "fatigued and unmotivated" before his disappearance. They go on to say, "We were concerned for his welfare but never imagined that he would consider taking his own life."
In response to the family's statements and the articles appearing in the press, the Maryland Natural Resources Police, who spearheaded the search and subsequent investigation, released a statement today cautioning the public to be prudent and wait for the outcome of the official investigation and autopsy.
The NRP release is included in its entirety:
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is still conducting the criminal investigation regarding the death of Mr. Merrill. The investigation is not yet complete and is pending the final autopsy report. It is expected that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will release that report to the NRP early next week.
Following the receipt of the autopsy report, the NRP will issue a statement regarding the completed investigation. To preserve the integrity of the investigation, it would be irresponsible to release any findings until the entire investigation is complete.
In the meantime, the NRP respects the right of the Merrill family to make a statement regarding the death of Mr. Philip Merrill. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with the family as they go through this difficult time.
As we reported on June 16, Mr. Merrill was not the first VIP to go missing on the waterways of Southern Maryland. Former CIA director William Colby allegedly drowned in the Wicomico River near his home at Rock Point on Cobb Island in Charles County in April of 1996. Years earlier in September of 1978, CIA Man John A. Paisley disappeared from his sailboat that he kept moored at Solomons Island. The boat later ran aground under full sail on Point Lookout with no one aboard. His body was later discovered floating near the mouth of the Patuxent River with a single gunshot to the head. Although he had been weighted down with diver's belts, his body eventually floated to the surface. The death was initially ruled a suicide and later classified as undetermined. There was even speculation as to whether or not the body found was that of Mr. Paisley.
Merrill Family Statement on Alleged Suicide of Philip Merrill
Washington Post: Merrill Apparently Shot Himself On the Bay
Merrill Not First VIP to Perish on Southern Maryland Waterways