Interior designer Jade Janks was found guilty of murdering her former stepdad Thomas Merriman after finding her private photos on his computer. The woman was accused of drugging and strangling Merriman and convicted of first-degree murder.
A California jury deliberated the case for less than 24 hours and announced the guilty verdict in the North County Superior Court. Deputy District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo told jurors Merriman’s death was not accidental and claimed:
“This was no accident. This was murder by design.”
However, Janks continued to maintain her innocence through the trial and said that she did not kill her stepfather as he died of a longtime illness. Officials previously revealed that Merriman died from an overdose from sleeping pills and his cause of death was acute intoxication of zolpidem.
The man was found dead under a pile of cardboard boxes in his driveway on January 2021. Following the verdict, Jade Janks’ lawyer Marc Carlos told the press that there was “zero” evidence his client strangled Merriman.
Jade Janks is a graduate of San Diego Mesa College and previously worked for Gordon Prill
Jade Janks is an interior designer based in Solana Beach, California. She is the owner of Jade Janks Interiors, a boutique interior design and decor studio.
According to her LinkedIn bio, her business offers “a unique custom tailored experience” to “Remodel, Refurnish, or Restyle” projects and focuses on creating “functional and fabulous” spaces or homes.
Janks reportedly stays with her clients at every step during the projects and calls herself a “design concierge,” who helps clients with all the tools required for creating a “one-of-a-kind space” that they can call “home.”
The interior designer reportedly attended the San Diego Mesa College and the MiraCosta College. She previously served as a project engineer in Gordon Prill and worked in outside sales for Suntile.
She also contributed to sales/design at Janks Tiles & Stone before joining Peter Lik USA as a Senior Art Sales Consultant in 2013. After working at Nativa Interiors for two years, she established her own interior designing venture in 2018.
Unfortunately, Jade Janks was accused of killing her stepfather in 2020 and convicted on first-degree murder charges.
A look into Thomas Merriman murder case and Jade Janks’ conviction
Jade Janks was recently convicted for allegedly murdering her former stepdad Thomas Merriman on December 31, 2020. Her mom and Merriman had already separated in the past, but the families reportedly remained close despite the divorce.
Prosecutors told the court that Janks found her private photo in Merriman’s computer when she went to clean his house after he was admitted to the hospital due to a fall. Merriman also allegedly used one of the inappropriate photos as the screensaver of his computer.
Reports suggest that the photographs were reportedly taken with consent by Janks’ former boyfriend nearly a decade ago. However, it remains unknown how her stepfather accessed the images.
Merriman was a butterfly activist who struggled with addiction issues and alcohol abuse. Following the murder allegations, Janks claimed that the former died of natural causes. Her lawyer Marc Carlos also alleged that Merriman died due to ill health and after consuming a self-made cocktail of sleeping pills.
Deputy District Attorney Jorge Portillo claimed that Jade Janks was “beyond freaked out” after seeing her private photos on her stepfather’s computer and immediately plotted to kill him. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Janks admitted to being horrified by the discovery but denied the murder allegations.
However, prosecutor presented text messages to the jury that showed Janks wrote texts like she “dosed the hell out of him” and she is about to “club him on the head as he is waking up.” Another text from Janks implied that she was carrying Merriman in a trunk:
“I can't carry him alone and I can't keep a kicking body in my trunk… I'm not strong enough. He is very aware now and I am on my own.”
Jade Janks’ friend Adam Siplyak reportedly told the police that the former allegedly asked for help to get rid of Merriman’s body. The interior designer initially told Siplyak that she needed help to get Merriman home as he was high on pills but later confessed to her crime.
Lead detective Lisa Brannan described Siplyak’s report to the court, saying:
“Ms. Janks told Mr. Siplyak that she killed her stepfather and she said, ‘I suffocated him with a bag and I choked him.’ She also said that she gave him a bunch of drugs. She wanted his help with getting the body out of her car.”
The detective continued:
“She wanted to take her stepfather to his home and put him in his bed. She wanted to look like he had overdosed in his bed as he had died in his bed.”
Following her arrest, Jade Janks was freed on a $1 million bail with a GPS anklet. She can reportedly face a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, with a hearing scheduled to take place on April 2023.