STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — Shirley Vinson Merritt's obituary gives no hint to the tragedy that took her life - but one glaring omission does.
Among her survivors, the notice of her death mentions one son, a daughter-in-law and many grandchildren. But nowhere is the name of Richard Merritt - the son accused of killing her - ever mentioned.
Richard is on the run from U.S. Marshals after he allegedly stabbed his mother to death. Now, a manhunt is underway to find a man facing a murder charge in addition to other crimes to which he had pleaded guilty just days earlier.
Because before he was an accused murderer, Richard Merritt was a disgraced attorney who pleaded guilty to theft, forgery and elder exploitation charges. He was facing 15 years in prison but hadn't been taken in yet.
This was in late January. Shirley was found dead on Feb. 2 at her Planters Row home. Investigators at the time believed Richard may be driving her brown 2009 Lexus RX350 with a Georgia tag that reads CBV6004.
While her obituary omitted much of the incident around her death, it pointed to some of her accomplishments in life, including in-patient and family services at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. It's there that family asked the public to make donations in lieu of flowers.
While she was working to help children, Richard was accused of doing the opposite - taking advantage of elderly clients by settling without their knowledge, forging their signatures and cashing settlement checks - keeping the money for himself. Prosecutors said he had at least 17 victims.
Anyone with information on Merritt's whereabouts is asked to call the DeKalb County Police Department at 770-724-7850 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477 (TIPS).
In the meantime, the rest of the family is now planning Shirley's final arrangements. They will accept friends on Feb. 12 at 10 a.m. followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. It will be held at H.M. Patterson and Son, Arlington Chapel at 173 Allen Road in Sandy Springs.