For ten days the disappearance of Philip Merrill, publisher of The Annapolis Capital in Maryland and the Washingtonian Magazine was a major mystery.
Although a more-than-competent sailor, the 72-year-old publisher and former diplomat vanished from his yacht while sailing in Chesapeake Bay.
Finally his body was found. There was a gunshot wound in his head and his legs were tied to a small anchor — all suggesting suicide. But there was no confirmation from his family – or the local police.
To the chagrin of his own paper, the report of his death – and what caused it – had to come from a rival paper, The Washington Post.
The editor of The Capital, Tom Marquardt, admitted: "We had to attribute the story to The Post because we couldn't get anyone – on or off the record – to confirm the cause of death. It was more than unusual, it was embarrassing"
In addition to his publishing connections, Merrill served with NATO as assistant general secretary for several years. He was also until recently an executive of the Export-Import Bank of America. The belief is that the veteran publisher-diplomat was distraught, on medication following heart surgery. But otherwise, according to the paper's editor, there was no indication that he was troubled when he put to sea in his boat.