Woman Accused Of Killing Stepdad After Allegedly Finding Nude Pics Of Her On His Computer

Credit: Christian Horz / Alamy
A woman has been accused of murdering her stepfather after she found out he had nude photos of her on his computer.

Thomas Merriman's body was discovered in January 2021 under a pile of trash at the home he shared with his stepdaughter Jade Janks in Solana Beach, California.

Last week, 39-year-old Janks' murder trial began in Vista Superior Court, The New York Post reported.

Prosecutors argued that Janks, an interior designer, drugged and strangled Merriman after discovering he had a nude photo of her as a screensaver on his computer. The images were taken by Janks and her former partner several years ago. It is not known how Merriman came to have access to them.
Credit: interiorsjade.com
She has pleaded not guilty to the murder of her 64-year-old stepfather, who prosecutors said died after overdosing on sleeping pills Janks had given him after she discovered the pictures.

"This was no accident," San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo said, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. "This was murder by design."

Two of Janks' friends told the jury that they went to her apartment after her stepdad suffered a fall in December 2020. They said they helped Merriman into a car before he was taken to hospital.

Janks discovered the photos while she was cleaning her stepfather's home, who was still in hospital at the time, the court heard.

Prosecutors said a text message exchange saw the defendant communicating with a man about giving Merriman the sleeping pills.

"I just dosed the hell out of him. Stopping for whiskey then at Dixieland to stall. LMK," Janks was said to have texted the day she picked Merriman up from the hospital, according to Del Portillo.

In the messages that followed, Janks seemed reluctant to carry out her alleged plan to kill Merriman.

“He’s waking up,” one alleged text read. “I really don’t want to be the one to do this.”

“I am about to club him on the head as he is waking up,” another read.

Janks later called another person for help, prosecutors told the court.

Her friend, Adam Siplyak, testified in court that she had told him Merriman's body was in the trunk of her car on New Year's Eve 2020. According to Siplyak, Janks had asked him for help moving the body to Merriman's room.

“She said, ‘I killed him, and he’s in the back of my 4Runner,’” Siplyak told the jury. “I said, ‘I can’t help you … no way, I’m out of here. I have a son to raise.’”

The following day, he spoke to law enforcement.

Police then searched the apartment and discovered Merriman's body under a pile of boxes, blankets and other trash as they were on their way out of the home.

Janks' own lawyers argue that their client is innocent and claim Merriman had actually died from poor health and "his own cocktail" of drugs.

“You will not find any evidence that he was strangled to death,” Janks' attorney, Marc Carlos told the court.

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