Man detained as public danger after alleged sexual assault

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Wiliam Merrill. Photo/ Pat Grossnith

MANCHESTER, NH – A man, who found his “uncle” molesting a four-year-old girl, pushed him down a flight of stairs and, in a subsequent tussle, stomped his leg repeatedly, breaking it according to court documents and court statements.

Judge Amy Messer, presiding in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District, on Monday ordered that “uncle,” William Merrell, 48, of  Beech Hill Avenue, be preventatively detained because of the nature of the offenses and because he is a danger to himself and the public.

Merrell cut his throat and neck with shards of glass from a broken window and, after he was arrested, was taken to a hospital for treatment.

He is charged with attempted aggravated felonious sexual assault; felonious sexual assault; reckless conduct, deadly weapon; falsifiying physical evidence; felon in possession of a deadly weapon; resisting arrest or detention; simple assault and criminal mischief.

Police learned of the assault when they were called Saturday at 1:16 a.m. for a report of a gunshot inside the Beech Hill Avenue residence.

Prior to arriving on scene, dispatch informed officers that a man named “William,” later identified as Merrell, had shot a gun inside the apartment.  While on the line, dispatch could hear Merrell arguing with the caller who said Merrell still had the gun in his hand.

The caller told dispatch he caught Merrell sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl.

When police arrived, they heard a man yelling loudly and then the sound of glass breaking.  Officers went toward the sound where they found Merrell on the ground among broken shards of glass.  Merrell was told to show his hands and, when he wouldn’t, police said they used force to subdue and arrest him.

The caller was holding the child when he came out of the residence.  An officer took the child to a waiting ambulance and rode with her to the Elliot Hospital.

The caller, who remained on the scene, was extremely upset.  He told police Merrell is a family friend who, although not biologically related, he referred to as his “uncle.”  Both live at the Beech Hill Avenue residence.

He told police both of them were drinking throughout the day and were watching television prior to the incident.

Merrell went to use the second-floor bathroom and the friend went outside to have a cigarette.  When he came back inside, Merrell was still upstairs and he went to see what was taking him so long.

He found Merrell in the child’s bedroom.  Her pajama pants and underwear were on the floor, the bottom half of her body was nude and Merrell, with his pants down and penis exposed, was molesting her, according to court documents.

The friend turned the light on in the bedroom and began yelling at Merrell who grabbed him by the neck.

He told police he thought he was being pushed towards the stairs and managed to get out of Merrell’s grip by slipping out of his sweatshirt.  He then pushed Merrell down the staircase.

Merrell got up and walked toward his first-floor bedroom where he retrieved a .40 caliber handgun.  The friend told him to pack up his belongings and get out.  “If you think this is true, then kill me,” Merrell said.

Merrell then fired the gun, according to court records, and the bullet hit the television and went into the wall.

The men continued to argue but then the friend,  who was still on his phone with dispatch, went outside to get the license plate number on Merrell’s truck in case he attempted to leave.

While he was doing that, Merrell also left the residence and attempted to get into the truck.  The friend began pounding on the passenger side window of the truck in an attempt to prevent Merrell from leaving.  Merrell then walked to the rear of the truck and tossed pistol magazines into the bed of the truck.

The men then fought again, according to court records.  The defense attorney told the judge Merrell was treated for a broken leg, an injury he suffered when the friend repeatedly stomped it.  The friend then ran back into the house and grabbed a knife from the kitchen to protect himself.

He heard the sound of glass breaking but did not see Merrell break the glass.  He then heard more breaking glass and believed Merrell was attempting to remove the shards from around the edges of the window.

Police found an exterior rear window that led to Merrell’s living quarters, shattered with shards of glass laying on the ground.  Investigators later recovered a handgun inside the apartment near the shattered window.

They also recovered three loaded magazines in and around the truck.

About this Author


Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.