39-year-old Jade Janks, the co-founder of the research nonprofit Butterfly Farms and an interior designer, trial started last week for the murder of her 64-year-old stepfather named Thomas Merriman. His body got discovered underneath a pile of trash at Solana Beach, California, last year. Janks pleaded not guilty to the murder in the Vista Superior Court last week.
Merriman’s death was “no accident” but an intentional “murder by design,” according to the prosecutors. The San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo said Jade Janks drugged her stepfather with sleeping pills because she found nude photos of herself on his computer over a decade ago. He reportedly used one of her nude photos as a screensaver. It still hasn’t been revealed how Merriman obtained those pictures.
Prosecutors claim they have text messages that will help prove Janks killed her stepfather. One of the alleged text messages proves she drugged him. Janks’ alleged text says, I just dosed the hell out of him. Stopping for whiskey then at Dixieland to stall. LMK.” She continued by saying, “He’s waking up,” according to NBC San Diego. “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 text read.
These alleged messages occurred the day Thomas Merriman died. She allegedly called someone to help her dispose of Merriman’s body, and that same person notified the police the next day, according to the prosecutors.
Janks’ attorney claims her innocence and reveals Merriman died from poor health and “his own cocktails” of drugs. “You will not find any evidence that he was strangled to death,” Janks’ attorney, Marc Carlos, said.