Columbus murder suspect arrested in Florida

Mark Merritt (Courtesy: Orange County Jail)
Mark Merritt (Courtesy: Orange County Jail)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The suspect in Columbus's latest murder is now being held behind bars in Florida.

Columbus police got a call Saturday evening from the girlfriend of 29-year-old Mark Merritt, the man police say is responsible for the stabbing death of Lakebottom resident Michael Crowley.
The girlfriend told investigators she was on the phone with Merritt, and then she initiated a three-way call with police. Investigators advised Merritt to turn himself in to police for murder. He complied, and around 6 p.m. Saturday evening he walked into the Orlando Police Department in Florida and was placed under arrest. 
Merritt is being held in the Orange County Jail, pending extradition to Columbus. Investigators say if Merritt is cooperative, he could be back in Columbus within a matter of days. 
Their investigation into the murder of Michael Crowley revealed that Merritt and Crowley had known each other for close to ten years. Police say Crowley would sometimes let Merritt stay in his Lakebottom home when he needed a little help.
Police say the weekend before Crowley was stabbed to death, Merritt was staying with friends in the Atlanta area and they had thrown him out. According to police, Merritt then made contact with Crowley and made arrangements to stay with him for a day or two in Columbus. That's when police say Merritt and Crowley got into some sort of argument, Merritt stabbed Crowley and then stole his Ford Explorer.
Tuesday law enforcement in Cobb County found Crowley's Explorer partially burned. That same night police in Columbus found Michael Crowley stabbed to death in his Lakebottom home. 
Merritt has not revealed any motive or further information on the crime he is accused of, and he will remain in the Orange County Jail until he can be transported to the Muscogee County Jail.

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