11/04/2020 - Fugitive arrested

North Carolina man arrested by Rumford PD, suspected heroin seized

November 4, 2020 - Rumford Police, assisted by Maine State Police troopers, arrested Joshua Wayne Merritt, 25 of 1420 South Wilimington St, Raleigh, North Carolina for being a wanted fugitive from justice during the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday.

Rumford PD officers received a tip that Merritt was a fugitive hiding out at a residence on Spruce Street in Rumford. Officers investigated the reliability of the tip and confirmed that Merritt is on parole out of Wilson County, North Carolina for a felony conviction of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. That conviction, was the result of a March 2017 mass-arrest operation conducted by the Wilson County Sheriff's Office called "Operation Battle Star". In that operation, deputies arrested 19 people who were charged with more than three-dozen crimes combined, after an investigation targeting drugs. (For more information on that case, see: http://wilsontimes.staging.communityq.com/stories/deputies-charge-19-in-drug-roundup,82802 ). Merritt was convicted by the Wilson County, NC Superior Court in February 2018 and sentenced to serve 9-20 months with 24 months of parole. After being released on parole, Merritt made his way to Rumford, in violation of the conditions of his parole, and a nationwide warrant for his arrest was issued.

Once confirming the tip, Rumford Police and State Police troopers set up surveillance on a Spruce Street in Rumford overnight hoping to confirm that Merritt was there. That surveillance paid off when officers spotted Merritt getting into a vehicle on Spruce Street with another person at around 4:30 a.m., and drive off towards Peru. Officers converged on the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on Route 108 in Peru. Merritt's identity was confirmed and he was taken into custody without incident. The driver of the vehicle was identified and released from the scene without charges. During a search of Merritt's belongings, approximately a gram of what officers suspect as being heroin, along with heroin paraphernalia, was seized. Possible drug charges may be brought once the substance is analyzed.

Merritt was transported to the Oxford County Jail on the charge of being a Fugitive From Justice and held without bail. Authorities in North Carolina have been contacted and they have confirmed that they will extradite Merritt back to North Carolina to face parole violation charges.

Chief Milligan: "I am very pleased with the way my officers handled this tip and the assistance we received from the State Police. Once we learned of Merritt's history with police, and his involvement with firearms, caution was certainly warranted and his immediate apprehension became a priority for us. The time officers put into watching for Merritt paid off. Rumford is safer now with one less fugitive hiding out in our community."