ANNAPOLIS-The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) announced today that it has concluded its investigation into the death of Philip Merrill. After a thorough review of the autopsy findings with officials from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner it has been determined that Merrill died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
On June 10, the NRP responded to a report of an unattended vessel in the Chesapeake Bay near Breezy Point in Calvert County. An initial investigation revealed the appearance of blood near the rear of the vessel. In addition, Merrills cellular telephone and wallet containing a significant amount of currency were also found on board the vessel.
After determining the vessel belonged to Philip Merrill, investigators immediately contacted his family. At that time, investigators learned from family members that Merrill had gone sailing alone and had not returned home at the expected time. The NRP immediately notified the U.S. Coast Guard and a joint search for Merrill was initiated.
During the course of the investigation, it was learned from his family that Merrill had been suffering from medical problems and had been recently despondent.
Simultaneously, information from an outside source revealed that Merrill had purchased a shotgun and ammunition within the week prior to his disappearance. The firearm was a Mossberg, Model 500, 12 gauge, pump-action shotgun. Both Merrill's vessel and residence were searched and to date the firearm has not been located.
On June 19, Philip Merrills body was seen and reported by a passing recreational boater in the Chesapeake Bay about one mile offshore from Poplar Island in Talbot County, a relatively short distance from the sonar search area. The NRP responded to the scene, took possession of the body, and transported it to Tilghman Island for initial examination.
An initial examination by the NRP and the Deputy Medical Examiner revealed that Merrill had suffered significant trauma to the head and his clothing appeared similar to that worn on the day of his disappearance. In addition, an eight-pound mushroom anchor was found tied to Merrills lower left leg.
The NRP has officially ended its investigation and agrees with the determination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.