WKYT - Lexington - Headlines

Warrant out for arrest of fugitive John Buckley's mother

By: Gabriel Roxas, Melissa Etezadi Email
By: Gabriel Roxas, Melissa Etezadi Email
John Buckley IV

John Buckley IV

Lexington, Ky (WKYT) - A warrant has been issued for the arrest of fugitive John Buckley's mother, according to court documents obtained by WKYT.

Lexington Police confirm to WKYT that they issued the warrant for Sandra Merritt's arrest for falsely reporting an incident.

Buckley has been on the run since July 12 when we walked out of the Fayette County Courthouse shortly before jurors convicted him of rape. His court-ordered electronic monitoring device was later found in the road in front of Buckley's home. Eight days later police found Buckley's getaway car in the parking lot of a Georgetown Walgreen's.

Buckley's mother filed a report claiming the car had been stolen by a stranger a week ago, according to Lexington Police. Investigators say preliminary information shows Merritt did this even though she knew the car had been stolen by her son.

Investigators tell WKYT's Gabriel Roxas that Merritt could face additional charges as the investigation continues.

"I understand that this is her son but it doesn't make it right," talking to us via phone, Buckley's victim, Jessica Merritt, who is still in hiding but has allowed us to use her name, explains her frustration. "If she helped him to get away then she is just as at fault. He is a convicted rapist and he deserves to pay time for what he did. Since I shared my story I've had a handful of his ex-girlfriends contact me thanking me for going to trial. They said they weren't strong enough to go and were proud of me for being their voice. He deserves to be behind bars, not walking the street with the general public. He is a threat to everyone around him."

Merritt has a Colorado Springs, Colorado address. Investigators say her information has been entered into a national database, and Lexington Police will coordinate with authorities in Colorado to serve the warrant.

Since fleeing, Buckley's victim has been in hiding and protective custody.

During his trial for rape, Buckley told the court about his service as an Army Ranger deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. Then as the jury reached a verdict, the judge had an unusual announcement: "It appears that the defendant, Mr. Buckley has voluntarily chosen not to return to court."

Mary Houlihan is the Director of Victim Services in the Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. Her first priority was securing Buckley's rape victim who had just testified against him. "Predominantly I was concerned with her protection and how to get her to a place where she would be safe," Houlihan said, "but very quickly I started realizing there's other people he's really, really mad at. He's made that clear the whole time as we've built up to trial."

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Todd Bradbury was the lead prosecutor in the case, but he says he's more concerned for the police officers who investigated Buckley and any other officers the fugitive could encounter. "And that could be in other jurisdictions too, you know, if he happens to get pulled over for a traffic offense in some other state, potentially those officers would be at risk," Bradbury said.

"My biggest fear," Houlihan added. "He is so self-righteous in his anger and vehemence about the whole world being against him and this sounding like a God-complex kind of thing, my biggest fear is more that he just. He's too big to just go away quietly."

A lot of people have asked why no one stopped Buckley when he left the courthouse. Buckley was allowed to leave because he was out on bond and confined to his home with an electronic monitor. With the judge's permission, he could also go see his doctor or go to his attorney's office. He was even allowed to go to Indiana for a funeral.

On the day of the verdict he left the courthouse at 2:51 p.m. and went home. When jurors returned with their verdict at 3:50 p.m., his whereabouts started to be questioned. Twenty-one minutes later an alert went off indicating his ankle bracelet had been cut.

According to the terms of Buckley's bond until the verdict or after he removed the electronic monitor no one could stop him from leaving the courthouse and going home.


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