Murder suspect returns

Less than two weeks after he was arrested in Oregon on two charges of murder, Mickey Patterson arrived in Lubbock Sunday afternoon accused of murdering two female former co-workers who mysteriously disappeared from work at the Lubbock State School in 2006.

Patterson, 59, arrived at the Lubbock County Jail at 2:45 p.m. Sunday after he was arrested without resistance Sept. 23 by authorities in Bend, Ore., for the murders of Kay Harrelson, 51, and Peggy Merimon, 6

When asked if he was innocent while walking into the jail, Patterson responded: "Yes."

When asked to give a statement to the family of Merimon, whose body has not been found, Patterson responded: "I'm sorry for her family."

Patterson's arraignment before a Lubbock magistrate could come today, Lubbock Sheriff's Maj. Kim Howell said.

Earlier in September, a Lubbock County grand jury handed down two sealed murder indictments, each carrying a $5 million bond.

Merimon was last seen leaving the Lubbock State School with Harrelson on Aug. 9, 2006.

Police wouldn't say last month what finally broke the case and led to the indictments. A department spokesman said to protect the case for trial, officials weren't releasing details.

In September, Lubbock police Sgt. Jimmy Pachall said the district attorney's office asked to review the case in June and decided there was enough evidence to proceed.

Relatives of the women have long believed Patterson, named as a person of interest in the case almost immediately, was responsible for the women's disappearance.

A wrongful death civil lawsuit filed last year by the families accused Patterson of luring the women from the school, killing them and then hiding their bodies.

Merimon and Harrelson were last seen leaving work during their lunch break with a male employee.

Harrelson's mangled body was found in a ditch near Shallowater almost two weeks later. The cause of Harrelson's death was never determined.

From the earliest days, the investigation focused on Patterson, who was director of risk management at the Lubbock State School. He was put on paid administrative leave shortly after the disappearances and was fired a year later.

Police searched Patterson's home and vehicle less than a week after the women disappeared, but officials said at the time they weren't able to find enough evidence to make an arrest.

Merimon's family tried various ways to find her and answers. They held numerous search parties, even as the weather grew cold and fewer and fewer residents showed up to help. They brought in ATVs, horseback riders, cadaver dogs and out-of-town professionals to aid in the searches. The family hired a private investigator and offered rewards.

And when all that didn't work, they kept searching and upped the $10,000 reward to $100,000, appealing for help by showing piles of cash on a table to the media.

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