Woman killed landlord and stole rent for months

Pamela Ann Merritt, a 43-year-old Texas woman, has been apprehended on charges of murder and theft. Merritt is accused of the murder of her landlord, Colin Kerdachi, 78, who was reported missing in February 2021 during a severe winter storm that caused widespread power outages in Houston. Merritt allegedly confessed to friends that she had killed Kerdachi, hid his body under a staircase for several months, and misled police by claiming the remains were of a deceased dog, as per court records.

Kerdachi’s disappearance was initially reported by Joe Guy, a tenant, who returned from a trip to find Merritt in the house and Kerdachi missing. Merritt was taken for a psychiatric evaluation following the report, but by October 2021, she had returned to the building, and Kerdachi was still missing.

The case took a turn when another tenant, Tabitha Pope, reported finding large amounts of blood in the building’s upper floors, a knife in the mailbox, and a blood-filled bin in a crawl space. Pope, who had recently moved in and was paying rent to Merritt and her boyfriend, Michael Brown, reported that the couple gave conflicting stories about the building’s owner, claiming he was either missing or had died in the hospital.

In December, Pope managed to trick the couple into revealing the location of Kerdachi’s body by suggesting that finding his remains would prevent the house from being foreclosed. When police arrived at the scene, they found Kerdachi’s decomposing body and evidence of a bloodstained wall being painted over.

Merritt and Brown were questioned by the police, where Merritt maintained her claim that the remains were of a dead dog and suggested that Kerdachi had faked his death and fled to Africa. She also claimed that the blood found in the house was from rotten meat she had cleaned out of a refrigerator.

Brown, who has been charged with evidence tampering, told detectives that he last saw Kerdachi in February 2021 with a stab wound but assumed he had gone to the hospital. An autopsy, however, revealed that Kerdachi had been stabbed multiple times. Phone records and witness statements led police to believe that Kerdachi was likely murdered on February 15, 2021.

Brown was arrested in March, and charges were filed against Merritt on May 30. Merritt evaded capture until recently when she was apprehended without incident. She is currently being held at the Harris County Jail on a $500,000 bond.