Real Name: Unrevealed
Case: Unidentified Remains
Location: Boise, Idaho
Date: December 4, 1982
Date of Birth: 1942 (approx.)
Weight: 175 pounds
Characteristics: Caucasian male. Blond hair. Tanned, possibly from the Southwest.
Details: On December 4, 1982, an unknown, well-dressed man walked into the Sacred Heart Church in Boise, Idaho. He apparently wanted to go to the confessional, but it was occupied at the time. As parishioners entered for the 6PM mass, one of them, Grace Leeburn, found the man lying dead across a pew's kneeler. She told her son Leo, the head usher. He got another parishioner, registered nurse Virginia Almquist, to examine the man. She confirmed that he had no pulse and was rigid and cold. She expected that he was an older parishioner, but was surprised when she discovered that he was a younger man.
The police were called to investigate. None of the church members recognized the man and he carried no identification. An autopsy determined that he had committed suicide by swallowing cyanide tablets. The man was dressed in Western attire. His belt was brown leather with a large buckle displaying a Mexican 100 peso coin in the center. Around his neck was a bolo-type tie made of turquoise and silver. He was carrying a wallet, but all items of personal identification had been removed. Interestingly, worn spots on the wallet indicated that it had previously held several items.
He was also carrying $1,900 in cash and a typewritten note which stated:
"In the event of my death, The enclosed currency should give more than adequate compensation for my funeral or disposal (preferred to be cremated) expenditures. What is left over, please take this as a contribution to this church. God will see to your honesty in this."
The note was signed "William L. Toomey". However, no person with that name could be located. Police did discover that a Boston company which manufactured ceremonial garb for priests had the same name. Despite this, they could find no connection between the company and the dead man.
The only other clue was his belt with a specialized buckle that was traced to a shop in Phoenix. Based on this and his suntanned appearance, police speculate that he was from the Southwest. The man's fingerprints were taken, but no matches were found in any databases. The church's priest believes that the man came from a Catholic background and decided to end his life in church so that he could make peace with God and be taken care of by the church members.
On December 20, a funeral was held for the man which drew over 300 mourners, mostly church members. His identity and the facts behind his death remain elusive.
Extra Notes: This case was featured as a part of the March 21, 1990 episode.
Results: Unsolved. The man known as Toomey has never been identified. However, investigators have looked into the possibility that he may be connected to the murders of two priests in the Southwest in the early 1980s. Both priests had connections to Arizona, which was where Toomey bought the belt buckle. Also, the second murder happened just weeks before his suicide. Despite this, there is little evidence connecting him to either case. There has also been some speculation that Toomey was connected to the murder of Father Reynaldo Rivera, who was murdered in New Mexico in 1982. However, this has also not been confirmed.
Grace Leeburn, the woman who found "Toomey," passed away in 1996; she was 105.
- Mystery man took fatal dose of cyanide
- Man Takes Cyanide, Dies in Church Pew
- Who Killed Father Ryan? (contains information about Toomey)
- The Unholy Mystery of the Murdered Priests
- Sacred Heart Catholic Church - History
- Reddit Discussion of William L. Toomey
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of William L. Toomey
- Websleuths Discussion Forum of William L. Toomey
- Grace Leeburn at Find a Grave