Chinese restaurant in Corridor burglarized

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By The Staff

On Friday morning, Feb. 6, an employee at Canopy Oaks Publix called the Sheriff’s Office, after noticing the front door of the China Star restaurant had been smashed in, according to a sheriff’s report.

At first glance it looked as though nothing was missing, but when the owner arrived she determined that $50 in bills and $600 in rolled coins had been taken from a cash drawer.

An after-hours

salvage job

When the man came to work at Windsor Auto Salvage on Feb. 12, the employee noticed the rear bumper was missing from a black Acura Integra stored near the office. After checking with other workers he confirmed that the part had not been sold.

As he took a closer look he discovered the tail light lenses  and engine parts were also missing from the car, according to a sheriff’s report. The parts were valued at $670.

Elder abuse tip

results in arrest

Concerned neighbors and tips to Crime Stoppers led Marion County deputies to the arrest of the caregiver of an 85-year-old woman on charges of abuse and exploitation of the elderly. Deputies arrested, David Patrick Merrit, 53, 5220 N.W. 26th Lane in Ocala Palms, on charges of driving with a suspended license, grand theft auto of two vehicles, dealing in stolen property, elderly abuse, fraud and petit theft.

The arrest came during an investigation of neighbors’ concerns and a series of well-being checks on the 85-year-old Ocala Palms woman. Merritt was allegedly caring for the woman but she is not related to Merritt, said family members now caring for the woman.

In various incidents during the investigation, Merritt was once arrested for driving with a suspended license, according to a sheriff’s office report. When deputies searched the car, they found a watch and a necklace that belong to the woman.

In a follow-up visit, the woman told deputies she was missing some jewelry, the arrest report said. In different visits to the home, the woman appeared at times to be clear-headed and other times somewhat confused, assuring deputies she was being cared for by Merritt.

Reports over the past month said deputies would find a bedroom of the home cluttered but the rest of the home clean. At times there was food in the refrigerator with mold and nothing fit to eat in the home. During one visit Merritt’s mother brought food in two plastic bags. One bag had what appeared to be frozen green soup and the other six strawberries, the arrest report said.

When asked about her car, the woman said it was being worked on.

The car was later found with a heavy odor of burnt marijuana in it in a different area of town. It was later discovered that the car had been sold for $1,500 by Merritt without permission from the woman.

Even though the woman had given Merritt money to pay the electric bills, they were not paid in timely fashion resulting in the electric being cut off three times on some hot days in September and very cold days in January.

The arrest report said Merritt left the home through a bedroom window one time when they visited. One time when looking for him they found his father had checked him into a motel with a false name. Another time the father gave deputies the name of the wrong motel.

Family members told deputies Merritt also ran up credit card charges and took out a loan against the home.

Merritt told deputies the woman was leaving him everything, she just hadn’t died yet, the arrest reports said. Deputies are continuing their investigation.