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Date of Issue: June 15, 2006

Islander charged with Palma Sola man's murder

murder pic
murder pic
Homicide
Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies searched a wooded area on the bay side of Palma Sola Boulevard in the 3600 block last Wednesday following a tip that a man had been killed and buried in the area. After discovering the man's remains, deputies later arrested Bradenton Beach resident Merle Zeigler and charged her with homicide in the case. Zeigler lived in the 100 block of Third Street South. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

In late October of 2005, Frank Reposh, 42, went missing. Friends were worried about his absence. Since Reposh had recently won a $100,000 insurance settlement and had not claimed it, his attorney, Ralph Mattice, filed a "suspicious circumstances" report.

Following the arrest June 7 of Merle Zeigler, 53, of the 100 block of Third Street South in Bradenton Beach, those suspicious circumstances have been resolved to law enforcement’s satisfaction - Manatee County Sheriff's Office detectives say Zeigler killed Reposh and buried him in a shallow grave in the 3600 block of Palma Sola Boulevard, in Bradenton.

Detectives have released an arrest report detailing how Zeigler allegedly killed Reposh, and how detectives came to arrest Zeigler.
Information was received June 7 by detectives that Reposh was murdered some time in September or October of 2005 in a residence located at 7818 40th Ave.

Drive W., Bradenton, by Merle and Joshua Zeigler. Detectives were told Reposh's body was then buried in a wooded area on Palma Sola Boulevard.

Detectives investigated and discovered a shallow grave just within the tree line of the quiet road on the east side of Palma Sola Bay.

Joshua Zeigler was arrested on unrelated charges of domestic battery and transported to the offices of Manatee County detectives. After he was read his rights, detectives said, an interview was conducted. During the interview, Joshua said his mother, Merle, shot Reposh in the living room of the residence on 40th

Avenue Drive West and later disposed of Reposh's body by burying him.

Merle Zeigler was then located by Manatee County sheriff's deputies and transported to the detectives' offices. According to Merle Zeigler, she could not remember the day of the incident, but she and Reposh got "high" on drugs. Zeigler told detectives Reposh angered her and she stabbed him with a kitchen knife below the ribs. She said she then bound Reposh's hands and feet with a telephone cord while he was lying bleeding on the living room floor.

Zeigler said she took $600 from him and left the residence to buy drugs. She bought a large quantity of drugs and rented a handgun from the drug dealer, she told detectives. She returned to the residence and got "high" on the purchased narcotics.

Then Zeigler said she placed a pillow over Reposh's head and shot him twice in the head, killing him.

She wrapped Reposh in a shower curtain and placed him in the bathtub. She then borrowed a van from a friend, loaded Reposh's lifeless body into the van and drove to the burial site.

She used a shovel to dig a grave, stopping when the ground got too hard, according to detectives. She put Reposh's body in the shallow hole and covered it with the dirt she had removed, the arrest report says.

Merle Zeigler was arrested by detectives late Wednesday and charged with murder.

Mike Quinn is publisher of NewsManatee.com.

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