Tenant Arrested After Landlord’s Body Found Under Staircase

Pamela Ann Merritt, a 43-year-old woman from Houston, is facing murder charges following the discovery of her landlord’s decomposed body under a staircase two years ago. Merritt had previously suggested to a police detective that her landlord, Colin Kerdachi, 78, had likely faked his death and was residing in Africa.

Merritt was arrested last Friday in connection with Kerdachi’s death, as per court documents. The arrest affidavit, as examined by Law&Crime, indicates that investigators suspect Merritt of stabbing Kerdachi to death around February 15, 2021. She is believed to have hidden his body behind an exterior staircase with the assistance of a roommate. The murder coincided with a record freeze in Houston that resulted in widespread power outages and an estimated $24 billion in damages.

Despite several visits by Houston police to the property, Kerdachi’s body was not discovered until December 6, 2021. Friends of Kerdachi had reported him missing, prompting the initial police visit to the home on February 20, 2021. They had not heard from him since the storm.

Three days later, police were called to the property again due to a reported burglary. The ground floor tenant, who rented from Kerdachi, found Merritt in the house upon his return from a long trip. Merritt, who refused to leave, was subsequently taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

In another incident on October 2, 2021, police were alerted to a suspicious situation by another tenant. She had found large pools of blood in a third-floor bathroom while cleaning the second and third floors of the apartment. She also discovered a knife in the mailbox and a bin with blood on it in a third-floor crawlspace.

In 2023, while reviewing all the police visits to the home prior to the body being found, a detective contacted the man who reported the February 2021 burglary. The man claimed that Merritt had confessed to killing Kerdachi when he inquired about the landlord’s whereabouts. Another man also reported hearing Merritt admit to the murder and reveal the location of the body.

The tenant who reported the suspicious incident in October 2021 discovered human remains under the staircase while cleaning on December 6, 2021. She immediately contacted the police. Merritt was brought in for questioning the following day. During the interrogation, Merritt reportedly denied Kerdachi’s death, insisting that the corpse found was merely a dead dog.

Merritt also suggested that Kerdachi had faked his death to commit fraud and was likely alive in Africa. An arrest warrant was issued for Merritt on May 30 on the murder charge, and she was apprehended last Friday. Michael Brown, the man alleged to have helped Merritt dispose of Kerdachi’s body, is facing a charge of tampering with evidence.