Tracy Smith Reports in “48 Hours: Jade Janks and the Secret Photos”

Jade Janks

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It was New Year’s Day 2021 when the San Diego Sheriff’s Department got a call from a man saying his friend, an area woman named Jade Janks, might have killed her stepfather, Tom Merriman. In a story only on 48 HOURS, contributor Tracy Smith reports on the case against Janks and shares clues never-before-seen on television that investigators uncovered, in “Jade Janks and the Secret Photos,” to be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 14 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+.

Assistant district attorneys Jorge Del Portillo and Teresa Pham tell Smith that the caller “told sheriff’s deputies she confessed to drugging him, suffocating him and strangling him to death.”

The call triggered a search for Merriman. He was found dead in his driveway, hidden under a pile of trash. Janks was arrested and charged with his murder, but she said she was innocent. She says Merriman, who had just been released from the hospital, had been in poor health and fell asleep in her car. Janks says she found Merriman dead in her car the next morning and panicked and tried to hide his body. When the autopsy came back it seemed to support Janks’ account of the cause of Merriman’s death. Prosecutors were looking for evidence of strangulation. Instead, the autopsy report said Merriman died of a prescription drug overdose.

The case, however, took an unexpected twist when investigators learned that just 10 days before Merriman’s death, Janks discovered hundreds of explicit photos of herself on his computer.

“It was the most violating, just awful, gut-wrenching feeling ever,” Janks says.

The case would take another turn when prosecutors discovered text messages of Janks they described as “suspicious” and “incriminating.”

But were the messages evidence of a murder?

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Press Contacts:

Kishon Springer

Richard Huff