BUCKFIELD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — After an intense manhunt, a man from Buckfield is spending the night behind bars.
Jason Merriam was arrested late Friday morning. He's accused of holing up with three children at a home late Thursday night.
He released the children around 6:30 a.m. and then managed to escape out a back door without police seeing him.
It all started when Oxford County sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic violence call at a home on Tucker Road. Merriam, 36, refused to come out.
The children were released to their mother early Friday morning but by the time police entered the house, Merriam was gone. Police launched a manhunt, warning the public that the suspect was violent, possibly armed and had an extensive criminal record. Officers fanned out across the Buckfield area which put some residents on edge.
Merriam was spotted by a trooper in an area near River Road but he ran off into the woods. Then a resident spotted a man that fit his description walking along a road in Sumner just across the line from Buckfield.
A state police tactical team called in assistance in the search and tracked the suspect to a wooded area near Bonney Road.
A suspect in August jumped out a back window of a motel after police received a call that there was someone being held against their will.
Last month, residents at a motel in Portland were evacuated and entrances were barricaded as SWAT members moved in on a suspect who was believed to be armed and dangerous, only to discover he wasn't there.
Sgt. Tilsley wouldn't discuss any state police tactics but he says in some cases officers are working on bad information.
"Our decisions are only as good as the information we get" Sgt. Tilsley said. In Merriam's case, the focus was to keep the children safe with the number of officers that were available.
"It boils down to resources and what we have at the moment," he said. "We don't drive around with 10 guys to respond to a call in five minutes – it just doesn't happen in rural Maine."
Even if a suspect gets away, police say they never stop trying to bring that person to justice and keep the community safe.
Merriam is being held without bail at the Oxford County Jail. He is charged with domestic violence assault, domestic violence terrorizing, obstruction of reporting a crime and probation violation.
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