WPTV Works Through Staff Tragedy

A veteran staff member at WPTV West Palm Beach became part of the news late last week, tied up in a terrible Thanksgiving tragedy during which four family members were shot to death. Jim Sitton, a photographer in the investigative crew at the Scripps station, was hosting Thanksgiving dinner at his Jupiter home when his cousin by marriage, Paul Merhige, opened fire. Merhige killed his two sisters, his aunt, and Sitton’s six year old daughter, Makayla.

Sitton said Merhige then walked away muttering, “I have been waiting 20 years to do this.”

Merhige remains at large.

Sitton said he’d not seen his cousin by marriage in about a dozen years. Bad blood had existed in the past between Merhige and some immediate family members.

According to the AP, he’d entered Makayla’s room and then shot her as she slept.

His daughter, Makayla, wrote on cards how thankful she was for her family, and strung them on a clothesline. After dinner, she sang songs as part of an impromptu dress rehearsal for a performance of “The Nutcracker” she was to be in the next day.

WPTV VP/GM Steve Wasserman says Sitton, a 15-year veteran at the station, has been working through his grief by talking about his daughter. Sitton was on the CBS Early Show earlier this week.

Here’s the video. 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.