Man accused of killing wife, setting fire to their home

Darrell Merritt appears in a Greenwood County courtroom for a bond hearing. (Nov. 29, 2012/FOX Carolina)

A Greenwood County man who is accused of killing his wife and then setting fire to their home was denied bond during a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Deputy Coroner Marcia Kelly-Clark said Lisa Jan Merritt, 46, of Bradley, SC, was found dead inside a County Line Road home about 2:22 a.m. Deputies said an alarm went off inside the home, notifying firefighters.

Kelly-Clark said firefighters responded to the house fire where they found Merritt, but she was not severely burned by fire and died from two gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

The fire appeared to start in the bedroom and is being investigating by the State Law Enforcement Division, Kelly-Clark said.

Greenwood County deputies said they were called in to investigate once Merritt's body was found by firefighters. Deputies said Merritt's husband, 53-year-old Darrell Merritt, fled to a family member's home in Anderson County, telling them what he had done.

Darrell Merritt's family called deputies and arranged for him to turn himself in, investigators said. They said Darrell Merritt turned himself in about 4 a.m. at the Spinx station on East Grier Street in Honea Path, and he has been cooperative since he was taken into custody.

According to the incident report, Darrell Merritt told his family he killed his wife and threw the shotgun out his car's window along Highway 252 near Austin Road in Anderson County. Deputies said they were searching a swampy area near there but had not yet located the gun.

Deputies said they believe Darrell Merritt set the fire as well, and he faces charges of murder, third-degree arson and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

"I am sorry for what I did," Darrell Merritt said during his bond hearing.

FOX Carolina spoke with Lisa Merritt's uncle, James Christian, in Bradley on Thursday, who said she was married for 10 years and had no children. He said she was a loving person who never met a stranger.

"We're wondering why this happened," Christian said. "We do not understand it all. But hopefully in the process of the investigation, what happened will come to light. Or at least something to give us something, an answer, because right now we don't have one."

An autopsy will be performed Thursday.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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