Merritt family shares about investigation into son’s death

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Family members of Daniel Madison Merritt know law enforcement officers are doing everything possible to locate the man who allegedly shot and killed their son.

James Merritt, father of Madison (as the family referred to him) said his son was something of a “mama’s boy.”

“When his mama didn’t hear from him that Saturday, she texted me and asked if I had seen or talked to Madison,” Merritt said. “I told her no, and she said he called or texted her every day.”

Merritt suggested Madison’s mother call the police. She called Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office and the search began. It eventually led to the discovery of Madison’s remains in a wooded area near Auction Barn Road the next day.

The search is still under way for alleged killer Cedric Stephens. While waiting for Stephens to be captured, the family knows “everyone is doing everything they can.”

“Right now, we’re just watching the (Webster Parish) Journal and Facebook and trying not to believe everything we read and just waiting for some answers,” Merritt said. 

Minden Police, Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office and surrounding law enforcement agencies are still actively following leads on Stephens and the reward money grows almost every day.

Police Chief Jared McIver said the U.S. Marshal’s Office has also been called in to help, should leads take law enforcement across state lines.

“We have several law enforcement agencies involved,” McIver said. “U.S. Marshals, Louisiana State Police, Webster Parish Sheriff and City Marshal’s Office. We have the manpower to find him; we are just looking for those leads.”

McIver said there is much going on with the investigation that cannot be released, and some of what is being shared on social media is incorrect.

“It’s like a puzzle,” he said. “There are still so many unanswered questions. We are putting everything together to prove in court. If we don’t do it right and have all the evidence that points to the suspect or suspects, it’s all in vain. He could walk if we don’t strategically do this exactly like it’s supposed to be.

“If a piece or two is missing out of it, it could alter the conviction,” McIver continued. “It hasn’t happened as quick as I would’ve liked it, but we have tried. We’ve had guys working around the clock.”

The chief requested anyone with information or leads should contact Minden Police Department (318-371-4226), Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office (318-377-1515) or 911. They can remain anonymous. A reward is being offered for information leading Stephens’ capture.

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.