Who says money can't buy happiness? Well a couple of lotto winners might if they both weren't dead:
Virginia Metcalf Merida and her husband showed up at Kentucky Lottery headquarters in July 2000 with a $65.4 million winning Powerball ticket.
The couple refused dozens of interview requests but told lottery officials that they were going separate ways to fulfill lifelong dreams: Merida was quitting her job making corrugated boxes and planned to buy her own home. Her husband, forklift operator Mack Wayne Metcalf, announced plans to start a new life in Australia.
Five years later, both are dead.
Merida's son found her dead Thanksgiving eve at her home - overlooking the Ohio River - which she bought for $559,000 in 2000. Campbell County police said she had been dead in the custom-made geodesic dome home for days before anyone noticed.
Metcalf died in 2003 at age 45 while living in a replica of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate in Corbin, Ky. David Huff, who bought the home from Metcalf's estate, said the man died of multiple ailments.
"It was a classic case of a person who never had anything and didn't know how to handle it," Huff said. "I think things went from bad to worse when he got the money."
Police are awaiting autopsy results and accompanying toxicology reports to announce Merida's cause of death. Investigators said there were no signs that anyone forced his way into the 5,000-square-foot home in the 4300 block of Mary Ingles Highway.
Information gleaned from court records and acquaintances suggests that Merida, 51, and Metcalf didn't lead the life of happiness that their comments to lottery officials suggested they wanted.
The couple split the winnings of the $3 ticket bought at a Florence truck stop 60-40. After they opted to take a $34.1 million lump sum instead of annual installments over a lifetime, Merida took 40 percent, or $13.6 million, while Metcalf moved to Corbin with the remaining $20.5 million.
Merida continued to shun the spotlight and people's attention. Neighbors said she did that with success until December 2004, when a body was found in her home.
Campbell County Deputy Coroner Al Garnick confirmed that a man died of a drug overdose at the home, but he couldn't recall the person's name. Official records were unavailable because of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Merida had used part of her winnings to buy a second home in Price Hill, but that too brought trouble. When she tried to evict the resident of the Hawthorne Avenue home, the renter brought suit against her in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday.
And that's not even all of it. Sounds like great fun, doesn't it?