RUMFORD — A convicted felon from North Carolina was arrested early Wednesday morning, charged with being a fugitive from justice for violating parole by leaving that state.

Joshua Wayne Merritt, 25, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was apprehended on Route 108 in Peru by Rumford police, with assistance from state police, Chief Tony Milligan said in a statement.

Joshua Wayne Merritt Rumford Police photo

Officers acted on a tip that Merritt was a fugitive hiding at a residence on Spruce Street. They confirmed he was on parole after being convicted in Wilson County Superior Court in February 2018 for being a felon in possession of a firearm, Milligan said.

Merritt was sentenced to 9 to 20 months in jail, followed by two years of parole in North Carolina. He came to Rumford, violating his parole, and a warrant was issued nationwide for his arrest, Milligan said.

The chief said police set up surveillance on Spruce Street overnight Tuesday, hoping to confirm Merritt was there. At 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, officers spotted Merritt getting into a vehicle on Spruce Street with another person and heading toward Peru. Officers  stopped the vehicle on Route 108 in Peru and after confirming Merritt’s identity, arrested him without incident.

The driver of the vehicle was identified and released from the scene without charges.

Milligan said a search of Merritt’s belongings revealed a gram of suspected heroin and heroin paraphernalia, all of which was seized.

Merritt was taken to the Oxford County Jail in Paris and booked on a charge of being a fugitive from justice. He is being held without bail while authorities in North Carolina arrange to take him back to face parole violation charges, Milligan said.

“I am very pleased with the way my officers handled this tip and the assistance we received from the state police,” the chief said. “Once we learned of Merritt’s history with police, and his involvement with firearms, caution was certainly warranted and his immediate apprehension became a priority for us. The time officers put into watching for Merritt paid off. Rumford is safer now with one less fugitive hiding out in our community.”

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