Alleged killer behind bars

By Bonnie Culverhouse

After more than three weeks on the run, the man who allegedly shot and killed (Daniel) Madison Merritt is behind bars.

Minden Police Chief Jared McIver said Cedric Barnard Stephens, 37, walked into the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office around 9 a.m. today (Friday, June 2) and surrendered.

“He (Stephens) ‘lawyered up’ right away, so that concluded the interview right off the bat. We didn’t get to ask him any questions. We don’t know where he’s been hiding or anything like that,” McIver said. “What I want to believe is, his conscience, along with the constant pressure from all law enforcement had him turn himself in.”

Stephens is suspected of shooting Merritt and hiding his body in the woods near Auction Barn Road, Minden in May. Stephens has been transported to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center. He is charged with second degree murder.

Shan Walker Merritt, Madison Merritt’s mother said the family is relieved Stephens has been arrested and also hopes his conscience played a part.

“By him surrendering I am hoping that he actually has a conscience and feels guilty about what he did and will give us some answers to our questions,” she said. “We have so many questions that only he can answer.”

Merritt said the family was unable to have a “normal funeral” nor could she see her son for the last time, which was difficult for her.

“There is really never any closure when it’s like that,” she said. “I am hoping this does help my daughters and his dad with the healing and closure process. For me, there may never be any closure because I didn’t get to see my son and say good bye.”

Merritt said the family feels the police “did a good job.”

“It took a minute for them to get things lined out but I was promised from the get-go that they wouldn’t stop looking for him until they found him,” she said of Stephens.

McIver specifically thanked Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals, Ward 1 City Marshals, Bossier City Police and Louisiana State Police for their help over the past weeks, as a multitude of leads were followed and search warrants served in an effort to locate Stephens.

“All the agencies went above and beyond,” McIver said. “I can’t begin to tell you how hard our detectives worked, how much sleep they lost.

“I know it was frustrating for the family,” he continued. “I have tried to stay in contact with them and reassure them we were on the case.”

The chief said he wishes they had located Stephens the day Merritt’s body was found.

“People have been afraid to go out, knowing he was loose, and not knowing for sure where he was,” said the chief. “But justice has been served now. We hope the family will have some peace.”

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.