LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Oregon authorities have 59-year-old Mickey Weldon Patterson in custody. He is charged with two counts of first degree murder in the 2006 deaths of Peggy Merimon and Kay Harrelson.
Formerly a Lubbock resident, Oregon State Police arrested Patterson at his home in Bend, Oregon, at 12 p.m. PST.
He is currently in the Deschutes County Jail on a $10 million bond, $5 million for each charge. The arrest warrant called for two $500,000 bonds, but out of caution - Deschutes County upped that amount.
We asked Lubbock County District Attorney Matt Powell what new evidence or information led to the murder charges, but he says he can't talk in detail about the facts of this case. He says Lubbock Police investigators recently felt they had enough against Patterson to send it to the DA's Office.
"We looked at everything including the civil case, and again, I can't tell you specifically what was the one determining factor that took us over the top. We felt, or the police department felt, there was enough evidence to present it to a grand jury," Powell said.
That sealed indictment was returned by a grand jury last Tuesday. They agreed that there was enough evidence to indict Patterson on two counts of murder.
In a civil lawsuit filed last year, family members claimed Patterson lured the women from the state school during their lunch hour, killed them and hid their bodies.
Powell says it will now be up to a Lubbock jury to decide, "I'm certainly not commenting on the evidence or the guilt or innocence. I am excited about, like anytime, we have come to a process where a grand jury felt there was sufficient evidence to indict him. What that means now, we can get him in front of a jury and they can decide if he should be held accountable for these two deaths, and that's what we ultimately want."
If he does not fight extradition, Patterson could be back in Lubbock as soon as ten days from now.
Meanwhile, "fugitive from justice charges" will be filed first thing Thursday morning. He will have an appearance before a judge Thursday afternoon at 4:45 CST.
He can ask for a lawyer at that time.
Investigators have spent more than three years following leads in this case after the two women went missing in August of 2006 while both were working at the Lubbock State School.
Harrelson's body was found 11 days later near Shallowater.
©2009 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.