When William “Bill” Harrison was found dead inside his home back in 2009, no one could’ve ever expected his wife Bridget Harrison as well as his son Caleb Harrison would follow suit within years. After all, as carefully profiled in NBC’s ‘Dateline: The House on Pitch Pine Crescent,’ the former’s death was ruled natural, only for things to change once it came to light the latter had been assaulted. So now, if you wish to find out more about the perpetrator behind it all — the elderly couple’s former daughter-in-law, aka Caleb’s ex-wife Melissa Merritt — we’ve got the details for you.
Who is Melissa Merritt?
It was reportedly in the fall of 2000 that fresh out of high school Toronto native Melissa came across Caleb while working her first big job at a local My Favourite Doll retailer store in Mississauga. They actually fell in love rather quickly despite their 7-year age gap, just to then tie the knot with their families’ blessing and welcome two children — a son and a daughter — into their lives. However, everything took a turn in 2005 as Caleb smacked his wife during a heated argument, leading to his arrest and conviction for domestic abuse or violence as well as their ultimate separation.
The physical 2005 incident allegedly wasn’t the first time the father of two had let his rage take over, which is part of why Melissa believed he wasn’t fit to share custody of their two young ones. The fact a distraught Caleb (due to their separation) had caused a fatal car crash from his drunk driving didn’t help matters for her either, yet the courts noticed his dedication to being a father never wavered. The former couple was thus awarded equal, joint custody — something she continually attempted to fight in one way or the other; it was as if she simply wanted the kids to herself.
According to court records, Melissa even objected to the children’s closeness to their paternal grandparents, Bill and Bridget, under the belief they were pulling them away from her, but to no avail. Her claims actually indicated that while she was building a new family alongside Christopher “Chris” Fattore (with whom she eventually had four children), she wanted all her kids to be together. This is also why she kidnapped them at essentially the exact moment Bill passed away in April 2009, when Caleb was in prison for the car accident, only to be located seven months later.
It was in November 2009 that Melissa was apprehended on parental child abduction charges from where her family had fled in Londonderry, Nova Scotia, to which she soon pleaded guilty. Yet it’s imperative to note a mere day before her former mother-in-law was set to give an impact statement against her at court, she too was found dead inside her home — on April 21, 2010. Then there’s the fact her ex-husband Caleb was killed around the same time she wished to start legal proceedings to get more time with her kids rather than adhere to the ordered joint custody.
Where is Melissa Merritt Now?
Once this entire timeline of events was established, it became pretty evident Melissa was the sole individual with a possible motive against the Harrisons, driving investigators to zone into her. They thus embarked on a mission to bring her and Chris out of their home, under the pretense of them winning a free trip, to bug the place in the hopes of getting damning statements, which quickly worked. The physical DNA evidence outrightly incriminating Chris in Caleb’s matter, in particular, did not help them either, resulting in their arrests on multiple counts of murder in January 2014.
While Melissa was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder in connection to the deaths of her former spouse Caleb and his mother Bridget, she faced no charge for her ex-father-in-law Bill’s demise. Eventually, she was found guilty of the former, but the jury could not reach a unanimous decision regarding her role in Bridget’s passing owing to lack of evidence, leading to a mistrial. Therefore, in January 2018, she was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years, with credit for time already served. She thus remains behind bars in a high-security correctional facility in Ontario to this day and will only become eligible for release in 2039.
Read More: Where is Christopher “Chris” Fattore Now?