Local News

Suspect Accused In Fayetteville Counselor's Death Appears In Court

Posted March 17, 2004 6:37 a.m. EST

— A man accused of killing a school guidance counselor made his first court appearance Wednesday a day after authorities found the counselor's body.

Melvin Shrieves Jr. was charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in connection with the death of Detrace Mercer.

Authorities found Mercer stabbed to death Tuesday night in a wooded area off John B. Carter Road in Cumberland County. They said he was laying on the ground fully clothed.

Detectives believe Shrieves stole Mercer's car, then killed him and left his body where it was found. Police said the discovery came using information from Shrieves' attorney. Authorities believe Shrieves knew Detrace Mercer, but they are not sure how. There is no word about a possible motive.

Shrieves was arrested Sunday after police officers said they observed him operating a white Chevrolet S-10 truck in a careless and reckless manner. They said he refused to stop.

A brief vehicle pursuit occurred and ended after Shrieves' vehicle struck a wall. Police said Shrieves jumped and ran from the vehicle but was pursued on foot and taken into custody.

Police said a bloody knife was recovered near the vehicle and that Shrieves' clothing and knife holster had blood on them. Shrieves was arrested and charged with felony fleeing to elude and other traffic-related charges.

During a preliminary investigation, police determined that the truck Shrieves was driving belonged to Mercer.

A police report indicated that Detective John Somerindyke responded to assist with the investigation and went to Mercer's address. He was unable to locate Mercer but said a witness saw Mercer leave his residence around 2:30 p.m. Sunday -- less than an hour before Shrieves was arrested.

Police said Somerindyke continued to follow up on the case and conducted a search warrant on Shrieves regarding the blood evidence discovered during his arrest.

Mercer's body was found around 7 p.m. Tuesday. Fayetteville police notified the sheriff's office after they determined the crime had occurred in Cumberland County.