Ernest Merchant: Raymond Moody’s Ex-Partner Is Now Leading a Peaceful Life

Image Credit: Steven Gonzalo/Facebook

The episode titled ‘Into the Darkness’ of ABC’s ’20/20′ explores the case of 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel who went missing in April 2009. When the news of her disappearance reached her family and friends, they alongside the authorities did everything in their power to get to the bottom of it all. Despite their best efforts, it took more than a decade for the arrest of the culprit — Raymond Moody. Besides delving into the case, the episode also features interviews with various individuals directly or indirectly connected to the case, including Raymond’s former romantic partner — Ernest Merchant — about whom only a little is revealed.

Ernest Merchant Met Raymond Moody in Prison and Fell in Love

Hailing from Poland, Maine, Ernest Merchant’s life was not devoid of struggle, in fact, the way he overcame the obstacles that came his way defined his life. After going through a seemingly dark childhood full of bad decisions, Ernest used to look “for love in all the wrong places.” As he grew up, he explored his sexuality while struggling with drug addiction, crime, and social prejudice. Therefore, although known to be a talented hairdresser, he was in the California prison system during the 2000s when he met and fell in love with Raymond Moody. Soon, as the two grew closer and shared details of their past, Raymond became his “cell husband.”

Image Credit: Steven Gonzalo/Facebook

Two years following Ernest’s release from prison, in June 2004, Raymond was released after serving half of his original sentence length. He then came out clean about his previous rape charges to Ernest, who then straight up asked him some confrontational questions about the same. Raymond told him that he couldn’t control his impulses at the time and he became someone who didn’t care. But he kept telling Ernest that he was a changed person and that he was no longer that person anymore. The latter thus decided to trust his partner and moved in with him in Georgetown, South Carolina. But it turned out to be a mistake on his part because as soon as Raymond got off parole, his behavior shifted.

A few years down the line, things became all the more tense between Raymond and Ernest when the latter caught him having an affair with a woman named Angel Vause in 2008. Not only did Ernest break off their relationship but Raymond was also forced to move out. After the breakup, he claimed that there were times when he was scared of his former lover, who had that look that said “I could kill you.” It didn’t take long for Raymond to get back to his old ways as soon, he was charged with indecent exposure. In 2009, around the time of Brittanee’s disappearance, Raymond unexpectedly showed up at his front door looking for some tools. Although Ernest was not aware of his involvement in Brittanee’s case at all at the time, he believed that he was very much capable of doing it.

During the interview with the investigators years later, Ernest recalled that when Raymond came to his house, he had scratches on his face and his bald head. He claimed that he even asked his ex if he had anything to do with Brittanee’s disappearance, but he denied it without any hesitation. When Raymond was named a person of interest in 2011, Ernest said that he was saddened but not at all shocked at the news.

Where is Ernest Merchant Now?

In 2017, Ernest Merchant published a memoir titled ‘Lost and Found,’ which recounts the decades of his dark past and his relationship with Raymond. In the book, he also honestly talks about the demons of self-destruction and how he looked for love in the wrong places at first. As the years have passed, he seemed to have moved on from his relationship with Raymond Moore. Ernest Merchant, who is also known as “Ernie,” was working as a hairdresser at Trendy Salon in Georgetown, South Carolina in the late 2010s.

Image Credit: Steven Gonzalo/Facebook

In June 2022, Ernest told The Post and Courier, “I believe now I never really knew him. I think he is mentally ill, morally bankrupt, and without a conscience.” Ernest also extended his sympathy towards Brittanee’s family and loved ones, saying, “My heart aches for the Drexel family and I hope they can find some solace in the knowledge that he will face justice and can never hurt anyone again.” On January 28, 2024, he celebrated his first marriage anniversary with his husband, lover, and best friend — Steven Gonzalo.

Together for more than a decade, the couple celebrated the occasion in the Coral Luxury Resort likely in Curaçao. For their vacations, they have since also explored the terrains of Rome, Santorini, Mikonos, Sicily, and Malta, in October 2023. It appears as if this wholesome couple lives together in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and loves to watch the sun go down the horizon at every opportunity they can.

Read More: Raymond Moody: Where is the Killer Now?