Cold Justice Confessions
Season: 3
Episode: 14
Original airdate: March 7, 2020
Episode chronology
Previous episode: A Helpful Witness


In 1981, a mother vanishes from the Hernando woods and the case goes cold. 33 years later, local detectives take the baton from Kelly Siegler and the Cold Justice team only to find that obtaining a confession may be the only way to solve the case.

Investigators tracked down Mearl in Chandler, Texas, and executed a ruse: They told him a plane crashed in South America and that they might have found Laverne's remains, possibly entitling him to money from the airline. In order for Mearl to collect the payment, however, they said he needed to go over his statement regarding her disappearance.
Mearl agreed, and once back at the station, investigators asked him to authenticate his previous interview transcripts. While he initially claimed that he could not remember what happened the day his wife vanished, Mearl slowly began to validate his prior statements.
Det. Williamson then confronted Mearl, telling him, "Back then, you told so many different versions of what happened to her - Bottom line, we want to know where she's at."
Mearl continued to claim he had no idea where Laverne - or her body - was located, maintaining he was "not gonna confess."
"When this story finally gets told, you're gonna look like such a flippin' animal. Such a flippin' low life," Det. Williamson said. "Give me the damn body. Because without the body, it looks like first-degree murder in every way, shape, form, or fashion. It's the absolute truth, and then you add the coverup to it afterwards."
After being challenged with the possibility of a first-degree murder charge, Mearl told investigators that he and Laverne went fishing in Inglis, Florida, and that she "fell at the dock" and hit her head. He claimed Laverne was not breathing and bleeding "pretty bad," and that he then tied an anchor to her body and "watched her sink."
"It's never gone away - It was an accident - I took the anchor. I put it on her. I wrapped it around her with the rope, and I turned her loose and shoved her underneath the dock," Mearl said.
When asked where they could find the body, Mearl said he would drive up to Florida and show detectives to the dock, but that he would not allow them to escort him. He then ended the interview and left the room, telling investigators he was "done."

Although Mearl had confessed to killing his wife, the case was out of the detectives' jurisdiction, meaning they had no authority or arrest powers.
They presented the case to Florida's Eighth Judicial Circuit Assistant Attorney Brian Kramer, and a grand jury indicted Mearl for first-degree murder. Detectives searched the docks where he claimed to have left Laverne's body, but they "came to the conclusion there was no way her body was going to be found," if it was even hidden there at all.
"Unfortunately, I don't know that he'll ever say the location of her body," Det. Williamson said.
Mearl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
"I believe that Mearl Mackey killed Laverne just for the money in her bank account. He could care less about her being a person, a human being," Det. Loydgren said.



  • Hernando County, Florida (November 5, 1981)


  • Evelyn "Laverne" Mackey (40)


  • Merl Mackey - sentenced to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to second degree murder.

Background information and Notes


Criminal Confessions Season 3
Episodes Chris Watts: Confession UntoldVanished in the NightA Killer AppShe Never Came HomeThe Kill ClubKiller FriendsWho Killed Little Mama?The Worst BetrayalHis Final FightNot My DNAProfessional SuspectTwo Fires, One VictimA Helpful WitnessCold Justice Confessions
Other Seasons Season 1Season 2Season 4
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