4 abducted kids thought to be headed to Florida found safe

Ohio police say mother, boyfriend are in custody


ORLANDO, Fla. – Four abducted Ohio children who were believed to be traveling to Florida with an armed, dangerous man were found safe Tuesday evening.

Police in Lima, Ohio, issued an alert Tuesday for 13-year-old Damara Croley, 12-year-old Benjamin Croley, 9-year-old Patience Wilson and 8-year-old Damien Wilson.

Lima police said the children were abducted by their mother, Marianne L. Merritt, 40, who does not have custodial rights for them.

They were traveling with Merritt's boyfriend, Charles Perkins, 39, who has been abusive toward children and was thought to be armed and dangerous, police said. Warrants were issued for his arrest.

Officials in Lima said around 5 p.m. that the children were found safe at a residence in Kenton, Ohio. Although Perkins and Merritt attempted to flee from the residence when they saw law enforcement officers converge on it, they were both arrested at the scene.

Perkins was arrested on an active warrant and Merritt is being held on suspicion of interference with custody. Formal charges are pending.

UPDATE POST!! After an extensive search and investigation, involving multiple law enforcement agencies, in Allen and...

Posted by Lima Police Department on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The group was thought to be traveling in a dark blue 2000 Chrysler Voyager that has a white passenger door and Ohio license plate FMQ3175. Officials said earlier Tuesday that they believed the group could be headed to Florida, specifically the Daytona Beach area. 

Officials said the situation did not meet the criteria necessary to issue an Amber Alert. The children are now in temporary custody of Allen County Children's Services.

Lima police released the following descriptions of the children and adults.

  • Damara Croley 13 YO. White Female. 11/08/2004. 5’03 / 180 pounds. Brown hair and Blue eyes. Last wearing red OSU shirt and Spiderman web pants.
  • Benjamin Karl-Leland Croley 12 YO. White Male. 01/30/2006. 5’01”/ 120 pounds. Blonde hair and Blue eyes. Last wearing yellow smiley emoji pants.
  • Patience Wilson 9 YO. White female. 03/05/2009. 4’05” / 80 pounds. Blonde hair and Blue eyes. Last wearing white top and dark blue or black leggings.
  • Damien Wilson 8 YO. White Male. 04/16/2010. 4’05”/ 111 pounds. Blonde hair and Blue eyes. Last wearing blue shirt and red and black shorts.
  • Marianne Merritt. White Female 01/16/1978. 5’05” / 210 pounds red hair green eyes.
  • Charles Perkins. White male. 09/05/1978. 5’05” / 164 pounds. Brown hair brown eyes.

About the Author: