Police across South Florida are on the hunt for a Miami man this morning suspected of gunning down four relatives at a Thanksgiving party in Jupiter last night.
Paul Michael Merhige, a 35-year-old with no significant police record, is suspected of walking into a party packed with 17 family members and killing three adults and a 6-year-old child, says Sgt. Scott Pascarella, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
Just after 10 p.m. last night, Merhige walked into the party at 104 Via Veracruz in Jupiter, police say.
First, he killed Lisa and Carla Merhige, both 33. The Palm Beach Post has identified the two women as his twin sisters. Then he killed Ramon Joseph, an elderly aunt, and 6-year-old Makayla Sitton, who was sleeping in her bed.
Paul Michael Merhige then fled the shooting in a blue four-door Toyota with Florida plates reading W427JT, police say.
It's not clear what set the man off. Riptide's records search this morning turned up only one criminal charge in Merhige's past in Miami-Dade -- a 1998 disorderly conduct complaint that was dismissed.
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More telling, though, is Merhige's civil court record.
Twice, first in 1998 and then again in April 2006, Carla Merhige filed civil domestic violence suits against her brother. Online records don't show whether she succeeded in getting restraining orders or any other protections against Paul Michael Merhige.
Tim Elfrink is an investigative reporter and the managing editor of Miami New Times. He's won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.