Real Name: David Allen Merrifield (sometimes mispelled Marifield)
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Dallas, Texas
Date: February 9, 1995
Details: At 7am on Thursday, February 9, 1995, attorney Clint Blackman arrived at his office building in Dallas, Texas. He bypassed the notoriously slow elevator and took the stairs to the third floor. At 7:30am, Juanita Lackey arrived; secretary Roxanne Ledermann let her into the building. They went to the elevator and pressed the button to call it down. When its doors opened, they discovered a man's body laying on the floor inside. They immediately called to Clint for help. He came down and viewed the body, realizing that it was forty-two-year-old attorney David Merrifield. He was one of Clint's colleagues in the law firm of "Smith, Merrifield, and Richards". He had been shot in the back of the head, execution-style. He left behind two children and a new bride of only three months.
David's murder was the kind of case that every cop dreaded. There was no obvious motive; David specialized in real estate law. Over the years, he had built a profitable but prosaic practice. His clients were not at all the criminal type. He seemed to be the last person anyone would want to murder. The most likely scenario was robbery, but police quickly ruled that out. His wallet was recovered a few miles from the crime scene. It still contained a small amount of money and all of his credit cards.
Police next turned their attention to David himself, piecing together the details of his last hours. The day before the murder, he received four phone calls from a mysterious stranger who identified himself as "Sam Jones". Jennifer Wanamaker answered the phone when Sam called. She said that he would not tell her who he was with or what the call was concerning. She assumed that it was a solicitation-type call, because that was usually what solicitors would say. She put him on hold and then called David. He agreed to talk to Sam. The two spoke for about ten minutes. After the call, she jokingly asked if Sam wanted to sell him something. He told her that Sam was not trying to sell him anything yet; instead, Sam said that he wanted to "do something" for David.
Police discovered that David had a notepad on his desk which had a calendar on it. On February 9, he had a marking for a name and an appointment: 6:30am with Sam Jones. Due to the common nature of the name, police suspected that it was an alias. They also keyed in on the unusual hour set for the appointment. By all accounts, David would never have suggested such an early meeting. Clint recalled that David never liked to get to work early; in fact, he normally did not arrive until 9am or later. Jennifer believed that he may have made the appointment at that time if someone really needed it. She had heard that Sam told him that he was leaving on a flight and "absolutely" had to see him. She believed that, in that scenario, David would have agreed to the early time. Otherwise, it would not have been like him to be up that early.
Police theorize that the killer insisted on an early meeting in order to get David alone. It is believed that David entered the elevator with his killer and that the killer shot him almost immediately afterwards. Sam was never heard from again. Jennifer felt that if Sam was legitimate, he would have called them at some point and let them know that David never showed up. As a result, she believes that Sam was responsible. Police have stated that they need an independent witness to come forward. They hope that someone may have been heard boasting about the crime, or someone may have seen suspicious activity near the office that morning. They also hope to identify Sam.
Clint is saddened by the loss of David; he noted that he was a fine attorney who was well-liked in their office and worked well with everyone. He hopes that the person responsible will be brought to justice.
Suspects: The man calling himself "Sam Jones" is considered a prime suspect. However, he has never been identified or located.
On the morning of the murder, an eyewitness spotted a half-ton pickup truck parked in front of David's office building. It was a black Ford, about eight-to-ten years old. The man behind the wheel was a heavyset white male about fifty to fifty-five years old (in 1995). He appeared to be waiting for someone, possibly David. Police suspect that the man and Sam are one in the same.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the December 1, 1995 episode.
Results: Unresolved. There are conflicting reports on whether David's case is closed. According to some sources, including David's niece, the prime suspect in the murder committed suicide in 2007 after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Police did not publicly identify him, but have since closed the case, believing that he was responsible. His motive remains unknown.
According to the official Unsolved Mysteries website, however, the Dallas Police Department still considers the case "open".
- David Merrifield on Unsolved.com
- Lawyer shot in elevator - February 10, 1995
- Colleagues discover lawyer shot in elevator - February 10, 1995
- Dallas Lawyer Fatally Shot In Apparent Robbery Try - February 10, 1995
- Police say they know who lawyer went to meet when he was killed - February 11, 1995
- SitcomsOnline Discussion on David Merrifield (includes comments from his niece)
- David Merrifield on Find a Grave