County deputies recently were involved in a child abuse case after reports were made of an eight year old girl being locked in a cabinet for over two hours while her mother was asleep in the bedroom.
Bobby Ray Merritt, of Rattan, is being charged with child abuse and possession of a controlled dangerous substance following a search of their trailer, that was located in the Rattan Mobile Park, and after two children correlated the same sequence of events to deputies while staying at their grandmother’s home.
The child told deputies that Merritt had locked her in a cabinet which was located under the bar in their house. When asked why she thought Merritt did this she stated that she had told him that she was going to tell on him because of the things him and Lee (referring to Lee Wayman) do.
She went on to tell deputies that Merritt put her in the cabinet with the sliding door and then used black tape, white rope and a dog leash to keep the door shut. She said that she tried to use a chainsaw bar to cut the tape but Merritt pulled it out of her hands and it cut her between the thumb and index finger.
Deputies asked the child if this had ever happened before and she stated that it had. That same day Merritt had tried to lock her in the bathroom closet where they keep their towels but she was only locked in there for a short time. He then locked her in the entertainment center and Wayman placed his back against the door so she couldn’t get out.
The child believes that she was in the cabinet for about two hours because when she was first placed in the cabinet she had Merritt’s cell phone. When she tried to call her grandmother, Merritt took the phone from her.
Deputies then asked the child what things Merritt and Wayman did in the house that she was going to tell on them about. She said that they drank a lot and smoked small skinny cigarettes that they rolled themselves in white papers and that it was called weed. She described it as being green with stems in it. She also said that there was white stuff kept in a purple bag in Wayman’s closet and that her momma sometimes kept under her bed but she didn’t know what that was called.
Her ten year old brother confirmed the story and said that she didn’t do anything bad to be locked in a cabinet, that all she said is that she was going to tell on them. The boy stated that she got out of the cabinet when their mother, Natasha Cathey, woke up. Cathey told Merritt to just not hurt her and that was it.
A search warrant was conducted at the residences of Cathey and Merritt. Upon arrival at the residence, deputies say Cathey in the kitchen window. Merritt and Cathey were asked to leave the residence and Merritt was arrested on a warrant. Cathey was told that the search warrant was because of what her daughter had told officers and that is when Cathey told officers that her children were liars, in a profane manner. Cathey was asked if there was a chance they would find drugs in the house and she once again stated, in a profane manner, that her kids were liars.
Some of the items that were taken from the house included: baggies with white powder in them that field tested for methamphetamine, chainsaw bar under the bar, black tape, glass pipe with residue, purple bag containing a white substance, baggie containing a green leafy substance, a purple bracelet found in the cabinet under the bar and foil with white residue on it. These items have been submitted to the OSBI.
When Merritt was asked about locking the child in the cabinet he stated that he was only playing with her but he had put her in the cabinet and used tape on the door. When asked, he also said that he did in fact take the phone away from her as well. He was then asked about the drugs and he said he knew they were there but they belonged to Lee Wayman. The people who were living in the home included Merritt, Cathey, Wayman, Ashley Bruce and the children.
When questioned, Wayman said he did used to live in the trailer with Merritt and Cathey but now was staying at his fathers. When asked if he had known about or ever seen the children abused he stated no but said that the only reason the children ate was because his girlfriend (Bruce) and himself would cook for them.
According to court paperwork, Merritt is being charged with Kidnapping (which is defined as any person who seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts or carries away another) and possession of controlled drug schedule II (felony) not using a motor vehicle.