DES MOINES, Iowa -- Dylan Merrifield was brutally attacked on December 19, while waiting for his father to pick him and his girlfriend up from an apartment on 1200 block on East Seneca Ave.
Court documents say 36-year-old Carl Stroud struck Merrifield on the head with a steel bar. At the scene, records also say he was screaming “I am God. I’m trying to save the kid.”
“I found my 21-year-old son on the ground with blood gushing out of his head, over his face, and he’s motionless,” said Rodney Nelson, Merrifield’s father.
Merrifield was taken to MercyOne Hospital where he has remained since the assault. His mother, Candace Nelson says his injuries are severe and include a fractured skull and brain damage.
“I was there holding his hand while they put staples in the laceration trying to get it to stop the air flow to the brain,” said Candace.
Stroud has a long criminal record, which includes 12 cases of assault, violence and domestic abuse since 2003. Many of which indicate the possibility of mental illness with multiple cases saying Stroud takes various medications.
“I myself personally visited over there before. I can hear this gentleman screaming at somebody in his apartment, and know for a fact he was alone in it,” said Candace.
Stroud is also very active on Facebook, sometimes posting multiple times a day. Some posts mention killing people, and others talk about his struggle with his medications and how they make him feel.
The night of the assault, Stroud was on probation for a 2017 O.W.I. which included assaulting a Polk County Sheriff and a State Trooper. His sentence of five years was suspended.
“I want to see justice for this gentleman. I do also want to see him get help, because it doesn't mean he's a bad person,” said Rodney.
Merrifield's family describes him as loving, hard working and full of life. He is in ROTC and works at a local Hardees. Candace told WHO that the family was already dealing with the loss of Merrifield’s grandfather who recently passed away last week.
“My son can not be here right now on Christmas...for the act of some random man,” said Rodney.
The Nelsons are hoping to find answers as to why Stroud was continuously allowed to live in the apartment complex.They say multiple residents complained about him and that his mental health condition seemed to be well known.
“Dylan expressed a few times about being worried about this guy what he was gonna do to somebody, you know, and stuff like that. And everybody ignored it,” said Rodney.
“Mental health is a very big issue, a very big issue. And it seems to be failing both sides at this point, so I would encourage lawmakers and lobbyists to please do something about this before any more innocent people are hurt,” said Candace.
The family is unsure how long Merrifield will remain in the hospital. They do know because of his extensive injuries he will need to be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital in Clive to try and regain some of his motor skills.