Although the homicide of Cori Lewis has triggered an enormous interest in the life of her confessed murderer, Kelly Merz, very little is actually known about the deceased.
Fortunately, Cori’s ex-husband, Bill Lewis, contacted the Mountain News and has been able to shed some light on Cori Lewis as a person, and in doing so has also revealed more details of the incident.
Mr. Lewis confirmed that Cori had moved into Kelly Merz’ apartment at 9822 158th St in July, and had a formal tenant-landlord arrangement with him.
In addition, Bill Lewis stated that Cori had had several years of drug addiction, which he speculated was methamphetamine usage, and she had just been discharged from a drug rehabilitation center in Auburn before moving into the Merz residence.
Neighbors on 158th have also described Cori as a meth user, alleging that she had skin lesions on her arms that are consistent with meth usage.
Lewis said that Cori had found Merz on Craigslist.
Also, Cori had another individual share her room as well, a woman known as Simi, who Mr. Lewis said had been a friend of Cori’s for over a year and they had lived together “in various places.”
Apparently, Simi also had a written rental agreement with Merz as well, which was revoked by Merz shortly after the women moved in.
According to Mr Lewis Simi left when evicted, but Cori stayed. Lewis said Kelly had promised to Cori that “we can work something out.” Bill said that he understood the arrangement would include helping caretake the apartment complex that Mr. Merz managed.
Mr. Lewis also confirmed that Cori had a boy friend during the time that she lived in the Merz residence, which Mr Lewis says enflamed Mr. Merz, a situation that has also been described by neighbors.
Before her arrival at Merz’, though, life had been very different for Cori Lewis.
Cori and Bill Lewis married in 2000, and Cori’s maid-of-honor was Lacey Erickson, the woman who helped build the memorial on 86th Ave in Graham at the site of the shallow grave where Merz attempted to hide the body.
Cori and Bill “had four good years together,” but then Cori seemed to change. The tragic death of a friend started a “downhill spiral” according to Mr. Lewis, and Cori left the marriage soon after.
The Lewis’ had a son together, named Haven. In addition, Cori has two other children from a prior relationship. Initially, Haven lived with Cori, but over the past few years he has lived with his father and remains there at the present time.
Mr. Lewis said that there were two memorial services being planned for Cori, a separate family gathering slated for Sunday, and a later one for friends.
As for the incident, Mr. Lewis said that Cori had called him several times in the days leading up to the murder, complaining about Kelly and voicing her desire to move. In fact, Bill says he gave Cori $150 the Friday before the shooting that Cori said she was going to use to relocate.
“She called me again on Sunday at 12:40 in the afternoon and told me she had to get out of there,” Lewis said.
Further, Mr. Lewis also said that Cori was talking extensively with her mother during this time and was arranging to move in with her.
Bill Lewis said that it was in the midst of the phone exchanges with her mother Sunday evening that Cori was shot, her mother never receiving the return phone call that would finalize the move back home.
© 2011 The Mountain News – WA
Update on the Cori Lewis murder – shooter has strong ties to Graham:
Body of homicide victim found on 86th Ave in Graham – local residents provide crucial information to police: