SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The death of Jesse Merlan, a local radio commentator known as ''Joe Question,'' apparently was caused from poison in his breakfast cereal, police said.

Merlan, 75, died Thursday at St. Vincent Hospital. He had spent 10 days in the intensive care unit at the hospital before he died of multiple heart attacks, his son Tom Merlan said.

Police Detective Jack Dietz said Merlan and his wife, Wilma, 80, were hospitalized Aug. 15 after they ate bran cereal containing a pesticide. Mrs. Merlan was discharged a few days later.

''We're looking at it as a suspicious death and we're trying to find out how (the poison) got there,'' Dietz said. An autopsy was planned.

Dietz said the cereal was bought in bulk from a local store.

''Nobody seems to think the poison came from the wholesaler,'' he said.

There have been no other cases reported, and investigators believe Merlan's death was an isolated case.

Investigators identified the poison as a pesticide sold as Temik and said it is federally restricted and available only to licensed users. Merlan was not licensed, Dietz said.

The officer said the cereal was kept in a jar that might have previously contained the poison, but no other traces of it have been found.

As Joe Question, Merlan had been host of a call-in talk show for various radio stations in the area since about 1970.