Officers search for assault victim


Merritt                                                           Bradshaw


Sheriff’s officials said deputies arrested two men on assault charges Friday and searched by land and by air for the victim, badly beaten the night before, who had disappeared.

Detectives listed Benny Ray Johnston, 25, as a missing person and arrested Brian Bradshaw, 26, and Sean R. Merritt, 27, in the assault.

Sheriff’s Maj. Ron Pullen said Merritt lives with his sister in the home where the beating occurred and Bradshaw is the sister’s wboyfriend. Both men are held on bonds of $200,000 each.

Pullen said deputies were called to the 14000 block of Thorton Hill Drive at 11:45 p.m. Thursday about a beating that occurred during a fight.

The neighborhood is in Crown Hill Commons, a new subdivision off Three Rivers Road and west of the Biloxi River Bridge.

Johnston was not at the home when deputies arrived and still hadn’t been found by early Friday evening.

Detectives called a crime-scene technician to the house and took Bradshaw and Merritt into custody. They are charged with aggravated assault.

“We were already up in the air in a helicopter to look at traffic associated with Black Spring Break,” Pullen said, “so we took advantage of the helicopter and used it to look for him.”

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