Serial Killer Monte Merz Is Suspected Of Committing A Litany Of Crimes Before His Death

In 2019, Los Angeles rookie detective Rachel Evans was assigned to the cold case unit, and she was tasked to take another look into the 1956 murder of a young woman named Barbara Jean Jepson. Many detectives had gone through the case over the years, but it remained unsolved. As a rookie, Evans was determined to prove herself to her fellow detectives and took the case as a challenge. As she told KSL, she read and re-read the case file looking for clues about where to start. After going through the reports, she noticed interesting details about the case that led her to focus on a man named Monte Merz.

Merz was a 54-year-old man when Jepson was murdered in 1956. In 1948, Merz was in a relationship with a woman named Fern Spiva, who had a daughter from a past relationship — 10-year-old Barbara Jean Jepson. Evans also discovered disturbing details about Merz. He was a gambler, an alcoholic, violent toward animals, and a child molester. Merz had been married to a woman named Bernice, but they divorced in 1945 due to Bernice's claims of cruelty.

Barbara Jean Jepson's murder

At the time of Barbara Jean Jepson's murder in 1956, she was 18 years old and married to a man named Joe Jepson. Based on her case files, detective Rachel Evans concluded that Jepson knew her murderer. There was no forced entry, no valuables were taken from the home, and there was no evidence of a struggle. According to KSL, nothing looked out of place inside the house. Furthermore, authorities who responded to the scene noted that the radio was turned on to a high volume, most likely to drown out the noise while the perpetrator was attacking Jepson.

Jepson, who was four months pregnant, was raped before she was stabbed to death. During that time, Jepson's mother was no longer in a relationship with Monte Merz. He married his fourth wife, a woman who had two children. As reported by Oxygen, one of the people investigators suspected to be Barbara's murderer was her own husband, but there was no evidence against him. No one was charged with her murder, and it became the oldest cold case in San Fernando Valley.

Other crimes connected to Monte Merz

In 1960, 15-year-old Mary Ann Perdrotta was found dead of multiple stab wounds in the foothills. Monte Merz knew Perdrotta, as the teenager had a horse stable next to his own stable, and they often went horse-riding together. However, there was no evidence to charge Merz with the crime. A couple of years later, Merz married his fifth wife, a woman named Ina who had a daughter and two sons (via KSL). Detective Rachel Evans discovered that Merz had been accused of molesting girls, but there was only one case wherein he was arrested.

In 1964, Merz was charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl. There was also a report that same year that he sought treatment at a hospital for a gunshot wound that he claimed was accidental, but those around him thought that he was shot intentionally by an individual. During his 1964 arrest, authorities conducted a polygraph test wherein he was asked questions about the murders of Barbara Jean Jepson and Mary Ann Perdrotta. He denied being involved in the stabbing deaths, and he even claimed he didn't know who Jepson was. Merz failed the polygraph test, and the results showed that he had "guilty knowledge" regarding the questions about Jepson and Perdrotta. Authorities strongly believed that they had their murderer, but with no supporting evidence, they couldn't charge Merz.

What happened to Monte Merz?

In 1965, Monte Merz's fifth wife, Ina, found a girl's underwear in their home. With her husband's prior charge of molesting a 14-year-old and her recent discovery of the underwear, Ina decided to confront him. The heated argument took a turn for the worse when Merz got his shotgun and chased his wife down the street. As reported by The Sun, he then killed Ina with several shots, returned back to their home, and took his own life by shooting himself.

In 2017, decades after Merz's death, more information was revealed about him. One of his former step-daughters provided information to authorities that she had been keeping secret for years. According to KSL, on the day Mary Ann Perdrotta was murdered, the step-daughter saw Merz coming home wearing bloody clothes and holding a bloody knife. She was 10 years old at that time and was afraid of Merz, which was why she waited until he was dead to reveal the information.

Monte Merz's modus operandi

Based on interviews and research, detective Rachel Evans believes that she has uncovered Monte Merz's modus operandi. He was a womanizer who married women with daughters that he molested, and he got away with his illicit activities by threatening to kill them. The step-daughter who came forward also informed authorities that she, too, was repeatedly abused by Merz (via KSL). Throughout the years, detectives who investigated the case had a strong suspicion about him, but with the lack of DNA technology during the time of the murders, they had no forensic evidence to submit for prosecution.

Detective Evans attempted to connect Merz to the crimes through familial DNA by getting a sample from Merz's son, but there wasn't enough DNA from the crime scenes to test. However, the department has the DNA sample from Merz's son preserved for future testing. As noted by The Sun, with the information that she uncovered, Evans said that she is 99% sure that Merz was responsible for the death of Barbara Jean Jepson, and they consider her case solved.