Gulfport man still missing; suspects face more charges



Search warrants and subpoenas will be issued today in the wake of new kidnapping charges against two Harrison County suspects in the disappearance of Benny Ray Johnston.

Maj. Ron Pullen of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department said deputies still are “in the search mode” for the missing 25-year-old Gulfport man.

Sean R. Merritt, 27, and Brian Bradshaw, 26, originally were arrested on assault charges after deputies responded to a call Thursday night on Thorton Hill Drive in the Crown Hill Commons subdivision. Deputies didn’t find Johnston but they found large amounts of blood and other evidence at the scene. Charges of kidnapping were added late Sunday.

A search has been underway in a 10-mile radius from the house near Three Rivers Road. In addition to Sunday’s new kidnapping charges against Merritt and Bradshaw, Pullen said other people not yet charged may face charges today.

“These search warrants and subpoenas should help us collect more evidence and move forward,” Pullen said. “The family and our department are on the common ground of finding where he is.”

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