JBER Airman faces charges in slaying of fellow service member|
Posted 6/20/2012 Updated 6/20/2012
by By Chris McCann
JBER Public Affairs
6/20/2012 - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska -- Airman 1st Class James Thomas of the 703d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was indicted June 15 on 11 charges including murder, evidence-tampering and obstruction of justice.
In a Tuesday court filing in Anchorage, an autopsy found Senior Airman Clinton Reeves, formerly of the 673d Logistics Readiness Squadron, was killed with a blunt instrument.
Detectives found a hammer stained with human blood in Thomas' truck, and records of online searches about body disposal.
The new filing gives no information about how the Anchorage Police Department believes Reeves was killed, but it does contain details that show why detectives suspect Thomas in the case.
Reeves was last seen alive April 19, when he left work at the 673d LRS at the usual time.
When he failed to report for work Monday, supervisors became suspicious and reported him missing.
More than a week later, his rented vehicle was found abandoned in a neighborhood near JBER, and he was officially listed as missing.
Airmen of the 673d LRS and other service members and civilians put up fliers and conducted searches in the area, and Reeves' parents came to Anchorage to join the effort to find the missing Airman.
On May 9, passersby in the neighboring town of Eagle River found Reeves' remains near a road.
Reeves had recently received an insurance payout of about $4,000 after his car was totaled, and he had been looking for a replacement.
Police have not said whether Reeves had the money on him when he disappeared or not, or whether it was a factor in the murder.
Thomas was arrested May 9 in connection with the murder and was initially charged with six counts of evidence tampering, after it was determined that he was one of the last people to see Reeves alive.
His accounts of the evening of April 19 varied, according to investigators, although Reeves' cell phone showed he had been at Thomas' house that night.
Thomas' cell phone records showed searches for methods of disposing of remains. Thomas had also borrowed a cell phone from a friend between May 4 and 6, and phone records indicate Thomas had been on the same road three days before Reeves' body was found.
Investigators at the state crime lab are working to determine whether the blood on the hammer from Thomas' truck is a match to Reeves, according to a bail memorandum.
Investigators searching Thomas' home with a warrant discovered evidence of a "violent encounter" there, although Thomas claimed to have destroyed clothes he was wearing that night and disposed of a black faux-leather love seat in Anchorage.
Air Force Lt. Col. Patricia Csank, commander of the 673d LRS, said that the unit is focused on Reeves, not Thomas.
"At this time, we are focused on honoring Senior Airman Reeves' memory and supporting his parents as they learn the details of their only child's death," she said. "For me, my priority remains caring for my Airmen. I trust local law enforcement and (Air Force Office of Special Investigations) implicitly, and take comfort in knowing that Clinton will have justice."