Police charge local man with kidnapping in Monday incident

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department has charged a Berkeley Springs man with kidnapping, domestic battery and obstructing an officer after an incident on Monday afternoon, January 3.

Kenneth E. Merchant II, 36, was taken into custody after deputies investigated reports that a woman had been abducted along Tabor Road shortly after noon. According to Sheriff K.C. Bohrer, a passerby had witnessed the incident and reported it to police. That person had reportedly seen a female being taken against her will, and had provided a license plate number to police.

Deputy J. Hedrick responded to the area and did not find the suspect vehicle, but investigated the information provided from the witness. Shortly before 2 p.m., Deputy Hedrick and Sheriff Bohrer located Merchant at his residence. Police told Merchant they would check the location to make sure there was no one in danger there, and Merchant refused to let the officers inside.

Officers did enter the residence and located a female inside who was “visibly shaken and crying,” police said. She reportedly had injuries to her face.

Police said Merchant resisted officers’ directive and ran away, but was apprehended. He was charged with three criminal offenses and has been incarcerated at the Eastern Regional Jail without bond to await further hearings in the case.

The Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center assisted the victim in obtaining an Emergency Protective Order against Merchant.