November 26, 2009
Jupiter, Florida
Paul Michael Merhige shoots several members of his family at Thanksgiving, killing four

Merhige visited the his cousin’s home for Thanksgiving. He spent three hours eating, chatting, and singing with his extended family before killing his twin sisters (one of whom was pregnant), his aunt, and his cousin’s 6-year-old daughter, and wounding others. Merhige fled the scene and was apprehended January 2, 2010.

According to witnesses, Merhige said “I’ve been waiting 20 years to do this” while he reloaded his gun. It was speculated by Makayla’s father that the 6-year-old was targeted after Merhige became jealous of the family’s attention towards her as she sang earlier in the day. It was also noted he had a history of mental issues and “a strong resentment towards several family members” which is considered to be the motive behind the shootings.

Initially it appeared Merhige would attempt an insanity plea, though he switched to a guilty plea to avoid a possible death sentence. Merhige was sentenced to seven life sentences, four for first-degree murder and three for attempted first-degree murder.

The Palm Beach Post. January 22, 2012


  • Roldan, Cynthia. “Merhige moved for pre-prison evaluations.” The Palm Beach Post [West Palm Beach, Florida]. November 9, 2011
  • Whigham II, Julius and Duret, Daphne. “Thanksgiving massacre: Plea deal may be sought.” Sun Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale, Florida]. October 26, 2011
  • Playford, Adam. “An unusual suspect: Merhige was likable honors student before he did the unthinkable.” The Palm Beach Post [West Palm Beach, Florida]. December 19, 2009
  • LaForgia, Michael. “Reward up to $25,000 in Jupiter shootings.” Sun Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale, Florida]. December 4, 2009
  • Martinez, Edecio. “Thanksgiving Massacre Witness: Paul Merhige Ate Dinner, Sang Songs Then Executed Family.” CBS News. December 2, 2009. Accessed: November 26, 2018.

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