Bail set at $1M for Solana Beach woman accused of killing stepfather

Tom Merriman at Butterfly Farms in 2019
Tom Merriman, one of the founders of Butterfly Farms, a non-profit organization that focuses on education and conservation in Encinitas, looks at caterpillar eggs on August 13, 2019.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Jade Janks was arrested Jan. 2 and jailed without bail


A judge on Wednesday, Feb. 17, agreed to set bail at $1 million for a Solana Beach woman accused of killing her former stepfather, who was a co-founder of the education and research nonprofit Butterfly Farms in Encinitas.

Jade Sasha Janks, 37, is charged with murder in the death of Thomas Merriman, who was found dead on New Year’s Day, and an allegation that the killing was premeditated, according to the complaint prosecutors have filed in the case.

Janks, who has a start-up interior design business, had been jailed without bail since her arrest Jan. 2.

Vista Superior Court judge agreed Wednesday, Feb. 17, to set bail at $1 million — her attorney had asked for a cap of $500,000, and noted that she had no criminal record and that 60 people had provided character references in the form of letters to the court.

Few details have been released about what may have happened and how Merriman died. In court, Deputy District Attorney Teresa Pham added little new information, but said Merriman had just been released from a hospital and was a “vulnerable victim.” She also said that Janks, as his stepdaughter, had been in a “position of trust.”

If Janks posts bail, the judge also ordered that she be fitted with a GPS anklet and surrender her passport.

According to the criminal complaint, authorities believe Merriman died on Dec. 31 in his home on Nardo Avenue, off Lomas Santa Fe Drive west of Interstate 5. Authorities found his body there the next day after someone asked the Sheriff’s Department to check his welfare.

— Teri Figueroa is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune