Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Thomas Nauss

Real Name: Robert Thomas Nauss Jr.
Aliases: Thomas Nauss, Tommy Nauss, Bobby, Mattress, Mumford
Wanted For: Murder, Assault, Rape, Escape
Missing Since: November 17, 1983

Liz Lande


Details: Thomas Nauss grew up in Upper Darby, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By the age of nineteen, he was a hardcore biker. He became involved in the Warlocks Motorcycle Club, later becoming its vice president. Elizabeth Ann “Liz” Lande, a petite blonde beauty queen, fell in with the Warlocks after leaving high school. She later began dating Nauss, who was abusive towards her.
On the evening of December 11, 1971, Liz, then twenty-one, spent the evening watching television with two friends at her Philadelphia home. At around midnight, Nauss called, wanting to see her. Her friends did not want her to go with him, but she decided to go anyways. She and Nauss spent the night watching television and taking drugs at an apartment he shared with a fellow biker in Folcroft, Pennsylvania. Sometime that night, she playfully kicked Nauss. This apparently sent him “over the edge.” He choked her until she lost consciousness. He thought he had killed her. Fifteen minutes later, she awoke and locked herself in the bathroom. He ordered her to come out, which she eventually did.
Liz and Nauss then had sex. Soon after, she apparently had a change of heart. She told him that she was leaving him because of his abuse. He responded by striking her in the head with a board and then hanging her with a rope in the rafters of the apartment. This time, he knew she was dead. He later told a friend: “See what I done? Now she won't bother me no more.”
Early the next morning, Nauss showed his friend and neighbor, William Standen, Liz's nude body hanging in the garage below the apartment. He then threatened to hurt Standen and his wife if he did not help dispose of Liz's body. They wrapped it up in a sheet and put it in the trunk of a car. They drove to a garage in Upper Darby where they gave her clothes and pocketbook to John Weir; he burned the belongings. According to Standen, he and Nauss then drove to a wooded area off the main highway near Williamstown, New Jersey. Somewhere in the forest, Nauss dug a shallow grave and buried Liz. Her body was never found.
When Liz's parents returned from a cruise the following week, they reported her missing. Nauss was the prime suspect, but he could not be arrested at the time due to lack of evidence. Her parents noted that, following Liz's disappearance, all of her friends and acquaintances called to inquire about her whereabouts except for him. He later allegedly bragged about the murder to other witnesses, saying that he strangled her to death because she made him "mad". He also told witnesses that he moved her body to another location and removed its teeth and hands to prevent identification.
In July 1977, Standen came forward and told police about what he had witnessed and been a part of. Nauss was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, indecent assault, and rape. At his trial, he claimed that Liz was depressed and had committed suicide and that they had disposed of her body because he did not want police to find out about his car theft operation. However, psychiatrists who had treated her said that she was not suicidal. In December, he was convicted on all charges.
For the first time in the history of the state of Pennsylvania, a man had been convicted of first-degree murder without a body or an eyewitness as evidence. Nauss was sentenced to life in prison at the State Correctional Institution in Graterford, Pennsylvania. He spent much of the next four years working in the prison woodshop.
On November 15, 1983, Nauss and fellow inmate Hans Vorhaurer put the finishing touches on a wooden cabinet they had built. Furniture made by the inmates was often stored in the adjacent warehouse while waiting to be sold by the public. At 8:30am on November 17, the two men reported to their jobs in the prison woodshop. During a routine cellblock check eight hours later, both men were missing.
It was discovered that on the morning of November 17, a couple identifying themselves as “Mr. and Mrs. Thompson” arrived at the prison in a rental truck, planning to pick up the cabinet. It was wheeled out from the greenhouse to the parking lot where it was loaded onto the truck. It was then taken from the prison. Hidden inside the cabinet were Nauss and Vorhaurer.
In 1986, Vorhaurer was recaptured. The “Thompsons” were later identified as a couple who were associated with Nauss who helped in the escape. Since then, he has been sighted in Arizona, Florida, West Virginia, and New Jersey.
Extra Notes:

Results: Captured. On October 30, 1990, Nauss was arrested in Luna Pier, Michigan, thanks to a tip from an "America's Most Wanted" viewer. He was living under the alias "Richard Ferrer" (the name of a former cellmate). He was married and had two children. After his arrest, he was returned to the Pennsylvania prison, where he remains incarcerated. Sadly, Liz's remains have never been found.