Click in the Eyewitness News story window above to watch Amy Powell's report from the scene, including a interviews with neighbors.
Merman's mother had asked the manager to check on her son. "She had not been able to contact him for several days, so she asked the building manager to check on his well-being," said Lt. Alex Padilla of the Santa Monica Police Department.
Investigators are unsure how long Merman had been dead before his body was discovered. Police said it appeared Merman was beaten to death, but an autopsy will be performed to confirm the cause of death.
According to a Web site, the Moscow-born victim was an up-and-coming artist who lived alone in his second floor apartment.
Neighbors described Merman as polite and kind. "A few times when I was carrying things, he would say 'Let me help you,'" said neighbor Rikki Kapes. "Very friendly and very nice. I'm shocked," Kapes said.
No arrests have been made.
This is the second homicide investigation in Santa Monica in the last week. A 21-year-old woman was murdered Sunday inside her apartment on the 1500 block of Centinela Avenue. No one has been arrested in the case.
The homicides have shaken up the upscale community.
"It's too close to home, and when things get too close to home, you start really considering what's important," said nearby resident John.
"Makes me nervous, but I hope that it's not random, that obviously they find the people who did this," said Tanya White, another resident.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8451.