Murder suspect still on the run

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Law enforcement from several agencies searched woods, ponds and pastures all day Tuesday, looking for the man they say may have shot and killed Daniel Merritt. By 8 p.m., he was still on the run.

Thirty-seven-year-old Cedric “Ced Red” Bernard Stephens is wanted by Minden Police. Merritt’s body was found partially buried in a wooded area near Auction Barn Road Sunday around noon. He had been missing since last Tuesday.

“Law enforcement was contacted this morning by someone who said they saw Ced Red in this area,” said Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker, referring to the west side of Minden that includes Old Shreveport Road and Hwy. 80 to Allen, Walter Lyons and Buddy Brown roads.

By mid-afternoon, a Louisiana State Police helicopter was over the area, hovering and flying slowly in a circle behind Woods Tank Farm. By 7 p.m., due to bad weather, the helicopter returned to Alexandria.

Parker said there would be a heavy patrol in the vicinity throughout the night.

“If he does surface, we’re ready,” Parker said.

Minden Police Chief Jared McIver said Tuesday night his office and the sheriff’s office were receiving phone calls and tips.

“People are giving us information,” he said. “The more we get this out there, the more leads will come in.”

With the city and parish working together, McIver said citizens are encouraged to call either the police department (318-371-4226), sheriff’s office (318-377-1515) or 911.

Stephens was described as wearing blue jeans and a grey shirt.

Joining WPSO and Minden Police in the search are Louisiana State Police Troop G, Wade Correctional Center’s K-9 unit and Minden City Marshal’s Office.

Although Parker reiterated his department is not in charge of the search, all law enforcement agencies want citizens living in that area to lock all cars, doors, and out buildings.

“We have searched every building, hay barn, abandoned vehicle, shed, everything we could imagine in that general vicinity with negative results,” he said. “We used every investigative tool we had to bring this to closure today for those folks out there.”

McIver said he feels Stephens is “bouncing around, in and out of the city limits and the parish. He’s from here, but he has relatives out in the parish, and we believe that’s where he was until today,” he said.

Parker said Stephens could easily double back and steal a vehicle to get away.

“He’s going to make a mistake and we are going to be ready,” Parker said, adding that U.S. Marshals have joined the law enforcement team to find and capture Stephens.

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.