A 64-year-old dad was murdered by his stepdaughter, all because his computer had so many nude photos of her.
Jade Janks, 39 years old and an interior designer, was accused of killing her stepfather, Thomas Merriman. The trial kicked off last week in San Diego County.
Thomas Merriman’s body was found under a heap of garbage in his driveway by agents responding to a welfare check on January 2, 2021.
The medical examiner said the cause of death was acute zolpidem intoxication. Zolpidem — or Ambien — is a type of sleeping pill.
“This was no accident. This was murder by design,” Deputy District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo said in court last Wednesday, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
According to the prosecuting team, Janks discovered a nude photo of her made into a screensaver in Merriman’s computer in December 2020. Perhaps she thought there would be more nude photos.
And after the discovery, she searched the computer and found even more nude photos of her, which she claimed were taken consensually with a boyfriend more than 10 years ago. That discovery left Janks “beyond freaked out,” before she ostensibly started thinking of killing him, said the DA.
During the trial, the DA presented as evidence several text messages sent from Janks’ phone after picking up Merriman from the care facility. Among the texts: “I just dosed the hell out of him,”
“He’s waking up. I really don’t want to be the one to do this,” “I can’t carry him alone and I can’t keep a kicking body in my trunk” and “I am about to club him on the head as he is waking up.”
One of the people she allegedly texted was referred to as a “fixer of sorts” by the prosecution, though that person refused to help her.
Janks admitted to murder
The man who called the police, Adam Siplyak, testified that Janks admitted to killing her stepfather, before asking him for assistance in moving the body.
Based on the testimony, Janks said, “I killed him, and he’s in the back of my [Toyota] 4Runner.”
Siplyak’s response was, “I can’t help you … no way, I’m out of here. I have a son to raise.”
In a pretrial earlier this year, swore Siplyak that Janks wanted his help to move Merriman into his own bed to make the death look like an overdose.
Janks’ attorney argued that Merriman died from “his own cocktail” of pills and overall poor health. “The medical examiner will not tell you it was strangulation. The science does not support strangulation,” they added, claiming Merriman abused pills and alcohol and left the
care facility with a number of prescriptions.
“Jade Janks loved her stepfather,”her defense attorney said in court. “Tom Merriman loved Jade Janks. Unfortunately, Tom Merriman was a troubled individual, and he loved her in different ways.”
As the trial continues and if she’s proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, Janks will be meted out a prison sentence for life.