SOLANA BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) - Friends and family are mourning the shocking murder of the founder of a popular non-profit in Encinitas.
Tom Merriman was the director of the Butterfly Farms in Encinitas. Sheriff's deputies found his body in a home on South Nardo in Solana Beach on New Years Day. They were responding to a call about a welfare check.
The woman who lives in the home, 37-year-old Jade Janks, is in custody facing charges of first-degree murder.
Deputies say the two knew each other, but they aren't releasing information or saying how Merriman was killed.
Tom Merriman shared his passion for butterflies with 10News back in March of 2019.
Merriman and his partner, Pat Flanagan founded the Butterfly Farms, nearly 10 years ago.
"I think he, like a lot of us, just got caught up in the magic of it. Once you see a butterfly come out a crystallize and see it fly around it's pretty magical," said Pat Flanagan.
Neither one had any experience with butterflies before they met.
"When you meet people who want to give back at that level, it's encouraging, and there's already a lot of people missing him," said Flanagan.
Flanagan just learned about his partner's death Sunday night.
"I was really shocked to hear that he had passed away and how he passed away," said Flanagan.
Merriman had been recovering from a fall he had following eye surgery. Flanagan said he isn't familiar with the suspect.
"There's some indication that this person they have in custody was somehow there taking care of him, helping him out," said Flanagan.
In a strange coincidence , this is the second time in less than 2 years the staff at the Butterfly Farms has dealt with the murder of an employee.
"The irony is not lost here," said Flanagan.
Sabrina Lukosky is remembered as a beloved butterfly breeder. Her boyfriend is
charged with killing her in the apartment they shared in Cardiff.
"Somebody came in and did a donation toward Sabrina, ironically, on Friday which is the same day apparently Tom's body was found," said Flanagan.
Janks is facing a charge of first-degree murder. According to the jail log, she's scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.