Police: Undercover officer's life in "great risk"

8:23 PM, Jul 9, 2013   |    comments
Julia Merfeld
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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Michigan State Police say an undercover agent's life is in "great risk" after the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office released an unedited video which shows his face and identifies him by name.

In the video, which was recorded in April, Julia Merfeld, 21, of Muskegon is shown meeting twice with the undercover agent who was posing as a hitman. Merfeld offered to pay him $50,000 to kill her husband for his $400,000 life insurance.

Merfeld has pleaded guilty to solicitation for murder. She will be sentenced later this month.

Below is a news release from Michigan State Police:

"Due to the release of video pertaining to a murder for hire case from Muskegon County in which the proper steps were not taken to protect the identity of a Michigan State Police undercover officer, I am asking that you please destroy any copies of the unedited version of the video that contain the identifying images and information about the officer. (Edited version without the identifying information is not a concern to me.)

The beginning of the tape contains identifying information which is required for legal reason when recording evidentiary video. The purpose of my request is for the safety of the officer. If his identity is revealed, his safety will be in jeopardy.
It is also possible cases will be compromised and he may have to be reassigned, causing us to lose a valuable resource which will be hard to replace.

I appreciate the efforts so far to edit the footage that has been used, however I am very concerned that someone will decide to reveal the identity of the officer. This would be a very unfortunate breach of trust which was requested by the Muskegon County Prosecutor when he released the unedited video, asking that the first 30 seconds not be used. There is no value in identify the officer or showing his image and doing so will place his life at great risk.

In today's world of rapid transmission of information, I realize it is not possible to "pull back" the video so the officer information can be removed, I can only ask that you understand my concern for the officer and do everything you can to help us protect him by reaching out to any affiliate you may have shared the video with and express my concerns and my request to protect his identity by removing his prelude from any video they have and ask the same of anyone they may have passed it onto.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter and for sharing the same concern for the safety of the officer as we have."

Insp. David W. Roesler

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