Man charged in Pa. stabbing rampage that killed 4NORTHAMPTON, Pa. — A 36-year-old man who served prison time for a 1992 murder was charged Sunday with fatally stabbing four people, including a woman described by confidantes as the suspect's former girlfriend.
By: By Michael Rubinkam, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
NORTHAMPTON, Pa. — A 36-year-old man who served prison time for a 1992 murder was charged Sunday with fatally stabbing four people, including a woman described by confidantes as the suspect's former girlfriend.
Police charged Michael Eric Ballard with four counts of homicide for Saturday's rampage in Northampton.
Ballard killed 39-year-old Denise Merhi, her father and her grandfather along with a neighbor who rushed over to help when he heard the initial screams from Merhi's house, authorities said Sunday.
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said he will seek the death penalty.
“It was a very difficult crime scene to see these individuals essentially slaughtered by this fellow using a knife,” Morganelli said.
Confidantes told The Associated Press that Merhi and Ballard dated briefly about two years ago. Ballard told police he “murdered (his) girlfriend and her family and then the neighbor,” according to court documents.
Police named the other victims as Merhi's father, 62-year-old Dennis Marsh, her grandfather, 87-year-old Alvin Marsh Jr., and her neighbor, 53-year-old Steven Zernhelt.
Merhi had two children, but neither was home at the time of the attack about 70 miles north of Philadelphia.
Ballard, who was injured in a car accident shortly after the attack, was arraigned at his hospital bedside. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Ballard pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in 1992 and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison, according to court records in Lehigh County.