Questions remain in mysterious Pittsburg homicide

A lot of 22-year-olds might look for the hippest and loudest club in San Francisco to have some fun. Ben Merrill chose something more old-fashioned.

After the Washington native would clock out serving Irish coffees at the venerable Buena Vista Cafe, he searched for the ghosts of the Beat generation in North Beach. He walked everywhere, and sought stories from San Francisco old-timers. He rarely left The City.

So when police found Merrill’s body 40 miles away without any identification, the apparent victim of a robbery-homicide, it took days to find out who he was.

“He loved San Francisco, and he was always trying to find the real San Francisco spot, something real old-school,” his roommate and friend Jesse Catlin said. “Ben doesn’t know anyone in Pittsburg. He doesn’t go there.”

Merrill was on his way out for a date the last time he was seen. It was with an older woman he met earlier in the week. She was in town for a conference, and Merrill was dressed for the occasion, Catlin said.

He had pizza at the Holding Company Bar and Grill later that night. He was alone, and that’s the last time he was seen until Pittsburg police found his body early the morning of Nov. 3.

Merrill was found shot to death at about 3 a.m. in Marina Walk Park in Pittsburg. He had no identification and no criminal record, and remained a “John Doe” for two days.

Police arrested a 20-year-old Pittsburg woman Friday in connection with the murder and robbery, Pittsburg police Lt. Brian Addington said. Kiarra Price was arrested on suspicion of murder, robbery and an outstanding drug warrant.

Teareney Brown, a 20-year-old Richmond resident, was arrested without incident at about 7 p.m. Monday at a relative’s house in Oakland, Addington said.

Neither woman fits the description of Merrill’s date that night.

The person who reported the shooting allegedly saw a car speeding away from the park just after hearing a shot fired. Investigators believe they have recovered the car and also Merrill’s iPhone.</p>

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Bay City News contributed to this report.
 

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Jill Bonny, owner of Studio Kazoku tattoo parlor in the Haight, tattoos client Lam Vo on Friday, March 5, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
No one was fighting for tattoo artists, so they started advocating for themselves

Jill Bonny has been tattooing in the Bay Area since 2000. Four… Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read