Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

David Thompson

Real Name: David Matthew Thompson
Aliases: No Known Aliases
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: August 13, 1996


Details: Thirty-four-year-old David Thompson is wanted for the murder of his seventy-two-year-old former father-in-law, Paul Hertel. Paul was a respected citizen in Richardson, Texas. He was a semi-retired electrical engineer, an active community leader, and a devoted husband and father. On August 13, 1996, he planned to spend the day in his yard. However, as he left the house, he was shot twice; once in the chest and once in the head at point blank range. Thompson became the prime suspect in the murder.

Paul Hertel

Paul's daughter Suzanne met Thompson at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in 1991. They were married six months later. A month after that, Suzanne was pregnant. At first, she was excited about having a child. However, she soon discovered that Thompson had a dark side, which grew violent as the weeks passed. One night when they returned home, he became angry and claimed that she was flirting with a neighbor. She said that she merely said "hello" to him. He responded by throwing her against a wall and claiming that she was being "unfaithful" to him any time she made eye contact with another man. He also told her that an unfaithful wife "deserves to die".
Suzanne hoped that Thompson would calm down once he became a father. However, when their son Forrest was born on June 16, 1992, the situation only got worse. When he came home one day, he became angry because she had not cleaned up the house. He broke several glasses and plates in the dining room. He then took a plated dessert and threw it into Forrest's bedroom, nearly hitting the baby.
After this particularly violent incident, Suzanne, fearing for her son's safety, moved in with her parents and began divorce proceedings. She was awarded temporary custody of Forrest; Thompson fought it but eventually settled for visitation rights. He made it quite clear that he was not happy with the arrangement. Suzanne feared her son's visits with Thompson. She had heard rumors that he was planning to abduct Forrest and flee. However, she could legally do nothing and had to allow the visits.
During the Labor Day Weekend in 1993, Thompson made good on his threats and abducted Forrest. He left a letter for Suzanne which stated that she wouldn't see her son until he was seventeen. He also stated that she should be "strong" because someday her father would die and then, he asked, "who would she have to cling to?" For ten months, there was no sign of Thompson or Forrest. However, on June 23, 1994, Thompson was arrested in South Carolina. Forrest was reunited Suzanne. Thompson was stripped of all visitation rights and given ten years probation for interfering with custody.
Suzanne's father Paul was convinced that there might be more trouble. He told his son on multiple occasions that he feared that Thompson would hurt someone, possibly himself (Paul). His beliefs apparently came true on August 13, 1996, when he was shot and killed in his front yard. Investigators believe that Thompson planned the murder. They believe that he cut through a chain link fence in the backyard and waited for Paul to come out of the house. A witness reported seeing Paul meeting with a man resembling Thompson in the backyard. The witness then heard a loud "pop" and saw Paul fall to the ground. He then saw the man raise his arm and point at Paul's head. He then heard another "pop".
One day after Paul's funeral, the Hertels received a letter from Thompson saying that he was sorry and was going to kill himself "before taking another human life". Suzanne, however, doesn't believe that; she is convinced that he is still alive. Thompson has been charged with first-degree murder. Police have discovered that before he fled, he bounced checks and maxed out his credit cards on high ticket items that he then resold for cash. According to the police, he may have amassed as much as $12,000. He also bought camping equipment that he may be using in state and national campgrounds.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the May 2, 1997 episode.
Results: Captured. Four months after Paul's murder, Thompson was arrested on a burglary warrant in San Diego, California. He was convicted and sentenced to one year in prison. He had concealed his identity by giving police a false name. When the FBI lab came back with a match of Thompson's prints, police realized they had a murder suspect in custody. He denied any involvement in Paul's death.
According to one source, the case against Thompson was no-billed, meaning that a grand jury felt that there was not enough evidence to charge him with murder. He did serve four years in prison for violating probation on his previous 10-year probated sentence for kidnapping. Thompson is free today, and the case remains open.
Sadly, Paul's wife Christine passed away in 2000.