Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dad in "child custody dispute" nearly succeeds in killing 6-year-old daughter in murder-suicide; protective mother's efforts to protect child blocked by courts (Orlando, Florida)

Once again we have the Clueless Neighbor quote. You know, the once where it is insisted that the child killer (or in this case, would-be child killer) is really a Good Guy.

The mother obviously knew that dad ROBERT MERRITT was potentially dangerous, as she tried to get the courts to give her an emergency child pick-up order, which, of course, the officials denied. This being the state of Florida, a huge fathers rights state and all.

Florida generally leads the U.S. in violent fathers with custody rights who kill children.

OPD: Dad allegedly wrote on Facebook he, his daughter were going to 'better place'

Man pulled from fire charged with arson, attempted murder
The man rescued from a house fire Thursday morning along with his 6-year-old daughter was charged with arson and attempted murder.

By David Harris and Stephanie Allen Staff Writer

Orange County Sheriff's Office Officers found girl pressed to window, trying to breathe in burning home

Officers pull 6-year-old girl, her unconscious father from burning home

An Orange County Sheriff's Office dispatcher allegedly wrote in a post on Facebook that he and his daughter were "going to a better place" before setting the house on fire Thursday morning with both of them inside,

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said. But before 49-year-old Robert Merritt's alleged wish could become reality, a team of Orlando police officers jumped into action to save Merritt, his 6-year-old daughter and the family dog.

Merritt, who has been a dispatcher with county since 1989, was charged with attempted murder and arson. He remains in critical condition at a local hospital. His daughter was in stable condition and should be OK, officials said.

Mina said there were "multiple points where the fire started." He did not say what accelerant was used.

The officers were responding around 5 a.m. to the home on Betty Street in a neighborhood off Bumby Avenue just north of East Colonial Drive for a well-being check after someone saw the post on Merritt's Facebook page, Mina said.

Sgt. Joe Capece said officers smelled smoke as soon as they got out of their squad cars. The house was dark when officers got there, but they walked around, shining flashlights inside windows. That's when they saw the smoke and the young girl struggling to get air from a small opening in a bedroom window.

Capece and Officer Mike Turner broke the glass, and officers Chris Valenti and Russell Sayer pulled the girl out. She was coughing, and covered in black soot.

Officers then saw Merritt laying on a bed.

They broke another window and dragged him outside, too.

Merritt wasn't breathing so Turner and Officer Kevin Geschke did CPR.

He started breathing just as emergency medical crews arrived and took him to the hospital, police said. Inside the house, officers also found the family's dog — a Labrador mix named Pepper — and pulled it to safety.

At first the dog was struggling to breathe.

"He must have cleared his lungs, because he just popped up and started running around," said Capece.

Animal control took custody of the dog. Capece said the officers acted quickly and efficiently. "I'm very proud of the squad and the way they worked," Capece said. "To be (quick and efficient), that's what it takes to safe lives."

Mina called their actions heroic.

Neighbor Estella Floyd watched the whole incident transpire. She said emergency crews laid Merritt on the grass outside her house and set the girl on her front step.

Floyd said Merritt, who goes by Bobby, and his daughter are always friendly and "very good people." She said Merritt has been in a wheelchair since she met him more than 20 years ago, and she sees the father-daughter duo outside almost every day.

Court records indicate Merritt and his wife, Brenda Merritt, filed for divorce in 2011 and were going through a child custody dispute.

Last week, Brenda Merritt filed a motion for an "emergency pick-up" of a child, but it was apparently denied, court records show.