NEWPORT, Ky. – A woman who won a $65.4 million Powerball jackpot with her husband five years ago was found dead at her home overlooking the Ohio River, where she had apparently been for days before anyone found her, police said.
Virginia Metcalf Merida's son discovered her body Wednesday. Police were awaiting autopsy and toxicology results before announcing a cause of death.
When the woman and her husband, Mack Wayne Metcalf, won the jackpot, they told lottery officials they were going their separate ways to fulfill their dreams. Merida planned to quit her job making corrugated boxes and buy a home. Metcalf, a forklift operator, wanted to start fresh in Australia. He never did.
Metcalf died in 2003 at age 45 while living in a replica of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate built in Corbin, Ky. His death followed multiple run-ins with the law, including a child-support dispute from a previous marriage and a drunken driving charge filed before he hit the jackpot.
Neighbors said Merida stayed out of public view until last December, when a body was found in her 5,000-square foot, custom-built geodesic dome house. Campbell County Deputy Coroner Al Garnick confirmed that the man died of a drug overdose. Official records of the case were unavailable because of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Merida used part of her winnings to buy a second home, but when she tried to evict the resident, the renter sued. A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.
Carol Terrell Lawson, who is still renting the home, said that she never met Merida in person and only learned of the death after reporters began calling her.