Deputy Sheriff Merrit Wayne Deeds

Deputy Sheriff Merrit Wayne Deeds

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, California

End of Watch Saturday, August 23, 1975

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Merrit Wayne Deeds

Deputy Merrit Deeds was shot and killed when he stopped to help what he thought was a stranded motorist.

Deputy Deeds stopped to assist what he believed was a stranded motorist parked at the edge of Highway 116 approximately a quarter mile east of Highway 1 near Jenner. Unknown to Deputy Deeds, the driver, a wanted parolee who had served time in state prison for child molestation, had pulled to the side of the road to molest two 15-year-old hitchhikers that he and two male companions had picked up earlier.

After making contact with driver and obtaining his drivers license, Deputy Deeds started to walk back to his patrol car to check him for warrants, still unaware of what had been transpiring. At that time the driver, knowing that he was a wanted felon, reached for the semi-automatic pistol, and the two 15-year old boys escaped from the car. As they ran into a field they yelled to Deputy Deeds that the suspects had a gun, but the driver was able to force Deputy Deeds into the back of the suspect vehicle.

During the struggle, Rex Nance, an off-duty reserve deputy sheriff, drove by and saw what was happening and stopped to aid Deputy Deeds. As he approached Deputy Deeds’ location, the driver shot Deputy Deeds in the face and then turned the weapon on Reserve Deputy Nance and shot him numerous times. The driver then delivered a final shot to Deputy Deeds’ neck, took Deputy Deeds’ revolver and the suspects fled the area in their vehicle.

Even though grievously wounded from several gunshot wounds, from which he would later recover, Reserve Deputy Nance made his way to the patrol car and radioed what had happened and the last known direction of travel for the suspect vehicle. The three suspects, 19, 21, and 39, were taken into custody without incident later that same night on Barnett Valley Road just south of Bodega Highway between Freestone and Sebastopol. The driver/shooter was convicted of first-degree murder of a peace officer and his accomplices were convicted of being accessories to murder.

On May 18, 1976, the driver/shooter, 39, was sentenced to a death sentence, later commuted to life sentence. His accomplices received lesser sentences and were released a year later.

Deputy Deeds had been with the agency for three months before he was killed. Prior to that, he had served as a State Trooper for the State of Alaska for three years. He was survived by his wife and two daughters and is buried at Shiloh Cemetery in Windsor.

To honor Deputy Deeds, a scholarship was started in his name at Santa Rosa Junior College for deserving criminal justice students.


  • Age 32
  • Tour 3 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .380 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life

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Rest in peace always knowing that your service and sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten by your law enforcement brethren.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

August 23, 2020

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