SoCal interior designer sentenced for killing stepfather over nude photo stash

SoCal interior designer sentenced for killing stepfather over nude photo stash

SAN DIEGO (TCD) — A 39-year-old Solana Beach interior designer was recently sentenced to 25 years to life for killing her stepfather because he had nude photographs of her on his computer.

On Jan. 1, 2021, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office received a welfare check request for a male at a home on the 100 block of Nardo Avenue in Solana Beach. At the scene, homicide detectives found a deceased man, Thomas Merriman, 64, buried underneath a pile of trash on the driveway, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said.

Prosecutors said that on Dec. 23, 2020, Jade Janks was cleaning up Merriman’s home while he was recovering in a medical care facility when she “bumped into his computer mouse and discovered hundreds of nude photos of herself on his computer.”

After finding the photos, Janks reportedly contacted a friend who told her he could help “fix” the problem.

On New Year’s Eve 2020, Janks picked up Merriman from the medical care facility and gave him several pain pills and sleeping pills, the District Attorney’s Office said.

The District Attorney’s Office said Janks then reached out to her friend and texted that she “just dosed the hell out of him” and was bringing him home.

The friend reportedly didn’t show up to “fix” the problem, and Janks texted multiple times, saying, “He’s waking up. I really don’t want to be the one to do this,” “He is waking up and I really need help,” “I am about to club him on the head as he is waking up,” and, “It’s going to be ‘Weekend at Bernie’s.'”

According to KNSD-TV, prosecutors argued that after Merriman was drugged, Janks used either a grocery bag or a pillowcase to strangle him, but it didn’t work quickly enough, so she used her hands to finish the job.

Afterward, Janks reportedly admitted to a friend that she “drugged, suffocated, and strangled” her stepfather and “needed help putting his body in his bed to make it look like an overdose.”

However, instead of helping, the friend called police and said they should search for Merriman.

Janks was convicted of first-degree murder in December 2022, and on March 6, the District Attorney’s Office announced she was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

District Attorney Summer Stephan said, “This was a complex case that our prosecution team along with law enforcement worked tirelessly on to prove the premeditated nature of this killing.”

Stephan continued, “Although today’s sentence will not bring back Mr. Merriman, it is a measure of justice for his family after a long ordeal.”

Prior to his death, Merriman co-owned Butterly Farms, a nature preserve in Encinitas.


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