On July 17, a woman entered her apartment and found a man inside holding a gun. According to records from the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office and Clerk of Court, the man took off when she entered. When DCSO deputies responded, she told them she knew the man and identified him as Joseph Lee Brantley, 36.

She said she had returned home with her children and a friend to find Brantley inside. He directed the two adults into the bedroom, which the woman could see had apparently been ransacked. 

The three reportedly knew each other and had had some kind of altercation the day before. They began to argue about it, and Brantley reportedly held the gun to the woman's head. One of the children later confirmed seeing Brantley pointing the gun at her mother.  

Brantley allegedly said to the woman, "Don't call the cops or you will be sorry"; later, making a hand gesture of using a phone, he said, "You won't see me again if you don't do this."

Brantley allegedly took a backpack from the bedroom that belonged to the friend, then exited via a broken window by which he had apparently first entered. After he left, the woman found backpacks and a duffel bag filled with some of her possessions and placed outside the broken window. She assumed Brantley meant to take those things but didn't, after being interrupted by the woman's return home.

Brantley, who is listed as homeless, was eventually picked up on a warrant and booked into the jail on July 30. Officers had information that Brantley could be found at a location near the woman's residence. The owner said Brantley was in a back room with a couple, Travis Merrell and Rebecca Jon Merrell, 25. When asked, the Merrells insisted Brantley was not there. 

But when detectives entered the room, they found Brantley hiding in a closet under a pile of clothes. 

When the couple was questioned about a weapon, Travis Merrell reportedly said a gun was hidden under a box in a dog pen in the back yard. Detectives found a sawed-off shotgun there.

Brantley was arrested on charges of home invasion robbery with a firearm and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill. He is being held on $150,000 bond.

Rebecca Merrell was arrested July 30 on a charge of accessory to a first degree felony after-the-fact and is being held on $7,500 bond. Travis Merrell's report was forwarded to the State Attorney's office. 


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