SJSO: Woman with Xanax 'plays mermaid,' enters Vilano Beach homes

A St. Augustine woman was jailed in St. Johns County after she reportedly “played mermaid” and swam up to waterfront homes before entering the residences without permission.

Tonya Gerlach, 33, was booked into the St. Johns County Jail after multiple Rivershore Lane residents in Vilano Beach reported a female intruder.

One homeowner told police she was in her home on May 25 when she heard noises in an upstairs room. The homeowner found a female, and when confronted, the female stated that she “worked there.”

The homeowner said the female arranged yard furniture and also watered plants while she was there. A different homeowner reportedly supplied authorities with surveillance video of a woman matching Gerlach’s description on the property.

In the report, it was noted that that she was chased by nearby fishermen, but she eluded them.

On May 26, deputies went to a St. Johns County home in reference to a civil complaint. There, a deputy met with Gerlach, who was reportedly upset over her living arrangement.

While the deputy was there, the report said, Gerlach’s roommates said she had broken into nearby homes and bragged about it.

When confronted, Gerlach reportedly told deputies that she had decided to “play mermaid” and swim to waterfront homes. Gerlach said she gained access to a home when she found keys on a nearby bicycle, the report said.

Gerlach was placed under arrest, and while being transported, she told a deputy that she “just wanted to know how it felt to live in a house like that,” the report said.

Police said they found Gabapentin and Xanax in Gerlach’s purse — medication she did not have a prescription for. Gerlach told police she had no idea how the controlled substances got into her purse.

Gerlach was charged with burglary and possession of controlled substances without a prescription. She remains in the St. Johns County on $8,000 bond.