Tim Merka was a happy, easy going young many who was devoted to his work and always wanted to help people, especially those in trouble. 

But his attitude of giving others needing aid may have led to his own downfall. 

That is how shocked friends and co-workers described Merka's life Wednesday.

Merka, 27, born and reared in Mumford, was found beaten to death Tuesday morning on Sandy Point Road near FM 50. Investigators have no leads on who committed the murder and are bewildered by the motive.

Witnesses said they saw four persons, two black males and two black females, standing near a car with its hood up and the doors open at 10:30 p.m. Monday in front of their home on Sandy Point Road. They also saw the persons wave down a pickup for apparent help. 

The pickup drove past the stranded motorists but then came back and pulled over next to their vehicle, the witnesses said. 

They saw a man, later identified as Merka, get out of the pickup and offer jumper cables to help start their car. 

Witnesses, realizing the stranded motorist received help, went to sleep and woke up Tuesday morning to find Merka's body and the apparently disabled vehicle in a ditch near their home. 

Investigators say the only motive they have for killing is that the attackers needed Merka's car for transportation. 

The pickup was later discovered driven off Mumford Road and the broken down car was found to be stolen in Bryan earlier Monday night. 

Helping stranded motorists is consistent with Merka's character, friends and co-workers say. 

"He was well-liked by everyone and went out of his way to help people which probably led to his undoing that night," Les Lyons, Merka's roommate at Texas A&M University, said. 

"I'm not a bit surprised if he saw a complete stranger in trouble that he would stop to help," added Dr. Charles Miller, a close friend of Merka and his supervisor when he works as a technician at the university.

Don Evans, a fellow construction superintendent with Merka at Sypcon Corp., said he talked with Merka about helping stranded motorists only recently.

"He never said he wouldn't anybody, but I'm sure he knew exactly where he was because he grew up there," Evans said. "He probably felt there was no reason not to stop and help. It was just another one of his good gestures," he added. 

Evans was apparently the last person to see Merka Monday night. They had both been discussing business and a possible promotion for Merka until about 9 p.m. Monday at the Sypcon office in Bryan."

"When he left, he said he was going home and would see me tomorrow," Evans said. 

Besides a possible future promotion, Merka had also recently purchased a 15-acre tract of land and was planning to build a new home on Old Spanish Road near Sandy Point Road. 

Merka had four children, ranging from seven months old to three years old. He was also a first lieutenant with the Signal Corps of the Army. 

Evans said Merka worked long hours and enjoyed his job immensely. "He was always serious, but he also had a humorous side," he added.

Several friends also suggested that Merka was sometimes too helpful towards others and cared more about his fellow man than himself. 

Merka graduated from Texas A&M in 1973 with an agronomy degree and was a member of the Corps of Cadets. He later worked on a cotton research project under Miller for about two years. 

Merka also worked as a trim carpenter in a partnership corporation with a fellow graduate. He joined the newly create Sypcon Corp. in 1976. It was formed and is owned by his brother-in-law A.B. "Buzz" Syptak. 

Friends are also bewildered that Merka was not able to defend  himself when the apparent attack occurred Monday night. 

"He was big (6 feet 3 inches tall and 230 pounds) and strong and stood his ground well," Lyons said. 

"He probably was hit on his blind side and never knew it was coming," Evans said. 

Merka had no reason to believe anything was coming because he had no enemies, friends say. 

"People say it's good to try and help people who are stranded on the road," J. F. Mills, Merka's academic advisor at A&M said, "But maybe nowadays that's not the thing to do."

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