Authorities have arrested the man accused of killing 57-year-old Cecil “Sandy” Morris more than five years after Morris’ body was discovered inside a burning home.
Jason “Travis” Merrill, 45, was arrested in in North Carolina last month on charges of murder, arson, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and multiple fraud-related charges, according to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
Morris’ death had remained unsolved since Oct. 30, 2015, when deputies responded to a house fire on Michael Drive in Greenville and found Morris’ body in the basement, Sheriff Hobart Lewis said at a Nov. 24 news conference.
Morris had been shot at least once, and his body had already begun decomposing prior to the fire, Lewis said.
Lewis said the case had gone cold due to a lack of forensic evidence until investigators began reexamining the case this fall and uncovered surveillance footage that led them to Morris’ roommate, Travis Merrill.
“While the exact motive of the killing is still unclear, investigators can confirm that the pair were roommates,” Lewis said.
After his roommate was killed, Merrill is believed to have flown to California, where he allegedly charged thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases to Morris’ credit cards. He then returned to their home in Greenville and is accused of setting it on fire before fleeing to a relative’s house in Brevard, North Carolina, where Morris’ vehicle was ultimately found, Lewis said.
According to his obituary, Morris was born in Greenville and died on Oct. 11, 2015.
He attended Freedom Baptist Church and opened his own cleaning company, Sandman’s Cleaning Service, after retiring from Michelin. His obituary described him as a car enthusiast who enjoyed gardening, camping and being outdoors.