Forensic psychologist looks inside the mind of Paul Merhige

By John Bachman - bio | email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

JUPITER, FL (WFLX0 - The search continues for the man accused of gunning down four family members on Thanksgiving night. Investigators are using everything they can to track down Merhige including trying to figure out his state of mind. We also wanted to know more, so we talked with forensic psychologist Dr. Michael Brannon.

He told us that the vast majority of domestic violence killings are highly emotional, spontaneous and usually end with the killer, hurting or killing himself.

That was not the case here which is just one more thing that makes his case so unique.

"When you work in the mind of somebody who is disturbed, we can't think with the way that we consider other people or the way that we use our own brain," Dr. Brannon said.

Jupiter police say Merhige killed four of his family members including two of his sisters, and his 6-year-old niece.

Dr. Brannon says in most cases of family murder, the act is spontaneous, and killer is highly emotional at the time, and then severely injures or kill himself, but instead police believe Merhige made an elaborate get away. "It's unique when this many people wind up dying as a result without some form of self harm or some note or some way of making a message impact statement."

He says Merhige's behavior on the days leading up to the killings seems to support a different reason for the killings, including the fact that he reportedly told family members that he had "waited 20 years" to shoot his family members. He was also recorded on surveillance video getting his car fixed, and buying a rifle at a gun store.

Dr. Brannon says, "His behavior here following these killings certainly seems to be consistent with someone who might fit that mold of a psychopathic personality."

Which he says could mean that Merhige got some kind of pleasure out of the act of killing his family members. And while Police continue to search for the accused killer, Brannon says it's also impossible to predict what he will do next.

"If he has some plan at the end of it all, to be able to leave some signature, some ultimate final statement we've yet to see that in his behavior," Dr. Brannon told us.

We checked with Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers, so far they have received 30 anonymous phone calls with tips for police.

Jupiter police say they've received more than 100 calls. The reward for information leading to Merhige's capture is now up to $35,000.