In 2017, before Rachel Evans took the case, one of Monte Merz’s former stepdaughters ⁠— whose mother was married to Merz at the time that Mary Ann Perdrotta died ⁠— came forward to allege she saw Merz come home on that day covered in blood and carrying a bloody knife. Through fear, abuse, and intimidation, Merz kept her quiet. But once she spoke out, she revealed that Merz likely abused a number of young girls in the neighborhood at that time. According to Detective Evans (pictured), that former stepdaughter said (via KSL), “[I]f she ever told anyone, she would be killed by the suspect.” The informant also reported still having nightmares about Merz.

Evans was aware of that information when she was assigned the Barbara Jean Jepson cold case. At the time that Jepson died, collecting DNA evidence was unknown in law enforcement, and there were other errors, as well. For example, a bloody rag photographed at the scene of Jepson’s murder was, for unknown reasons, never entered into evidence. Given advancements in DNA testing technology, surviving DNA from crime scene evidence was compared to samples gathered from Merz’s elderly son, who died shortly after they were collected. What transpired did not so much prove guilt in the eyes of the courts, but the match did allow the Jepson cold case to be solved per the standards of law enforcement: With 99% certainty, Merz had done it. He was also likely guilty of the other murders and abuse at that time. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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