Unsolved Mysteries Wiki
William toomey

A composite of William L. Toomey

William toomey suicide note

Suicide note

Real Name: Unrevealed
Case: Unidentified Remains
Location: Boise, Idaho
Date: December 4, 1982


Details: A man using the name “William L. Toomey” was found dead on December 4, 1982, in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Boise, Idaho. Three weeks later, on December 28, over 300 members of the church gathered together and paid their final respects to him. But this funeral was unusual in that no one – neither the priest nor the parishioners – knew who they were burying.
Somewhere, the family of the man who died in the church is still wondering about the fate of their lost loved one. But authorities are no closer to identifying the man than they were the day his body was discovered.
Shortly after 5pm on the afternoon of December 4, 1982, members of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church began to arrive for that evening’s 6pm mass. Leo Leeburn, the church’s head usher, and his elderly mother, Grace, were among the first parishioners to arrive. He let her walk down the aisle by herself. When she got about six rows down, she stopped and kicked something on the ground.
Leo decided to walk down the aisle to investigate. When he got to the pew that Grace had stopped at, he noticed a man lying face down across the kneeler. Moments later, Virginia Almquist, a registered nurse, arrived at the church. Leo told her that a man had collapsed in one of the pews. She figured that someone was ill or had fainted.
Virginia grabbed the man’s arm to get his pulse. She felt no pulse and noticed that his arm was rigid and cold. She realized that he was dead. She expected that he was one of the older parishioners. However, when she looked at his face, she realized he was a younger man she did not recognize. No one else at the church recognized him either.
Virginia went to the church’s pastor, Father Thomas Faucher, and told him what had happened. He contacted the Boise Police Department. The mass was then moved to the gymnasium so that the police could investigate. At approximately 5:45pm, Sergeant Frank Richardson arrived at the church and made an extraordinary discovery. In the dead man’s shirt pocket was a brown envelope that contained nineteen $100 bills (a total of $1,900) and a typewritten note on 3-by-5-inch note paper.
The note read: “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.” It was signed “Wm. L Toomey,” presumably short for William L. Toomey.
An autopsy later revealed that the man had died from ingesting a lethal dose of cyanide via a cyanide capsule. He was dressed in Western-style clothing, which included blue jeans, cowboy boots, a green long-sleeved casual shirt, and a Seiko wristwatch. His belt was brown leather with a large buckle displaying a Mexican 100-peso coin in the center. It was traced to a gift shop in Phoenix, Arizona.
Around the man’s neck was a Western-style bolo-type tie made of turquoise and silver. “P White” was stamped on the back of it. Inside the man’s rear pocket, Sgt. Richardson found a wallet. Only $53 in cash was found. All items of personal identification had been removed.
Sgt. Richardson could tell from the worn spots on the wallet that it must have been crammed full of information. However, the man apparently destroyed everything in it before entering the church. Police could not match anyone reported missing in the United States or Canada with the name “William L. Toomey.” However, they did locate a business in Boston, Massachusetts, with that name. Curiously, it manufactures ceremonial garments worn by priests. But authorities have found absolutely no connection between that business and the man.
Police suspect that the man used the name “William L. Toomey” as an alias. Sgt. Richardson does not believe that the man would remove all of his identification from his wallet and then sign his own name on his suicide note. He also notes that the man’s signature did not have the “natural letter strokes” one would expect if it were his actual signature.
The man’s fingerprints were taken, but no matches were found in the FBI or Idaho state databases. Several leads as to his identity have been followed up on throughout the country, but nothing has panned out.
Sgt. Richardson believes the man planned to commit suicide either during or after confession with the church’s priest. Witnesses saw him sitting in the pews near the confessional at around 4pm. Sgt. Richardson believes that the man miscalculated how long it would take for the cyanide to take effect. He suspects the man took the capsule and died while waiting for the confessional to open up. Sgt. Richardson also believes that the man was intimately connected to the Catholic Church.
Father Faucher also theorizes that the man had a Catholic background. He believes that something happened in the man’s life that led him to commit suicide. But he wanted to do it in a way so that he could make his peace with God before he died. He also wanted to do it away from his family so they would not have to deal with it. And he knew that if he came to a church, he would be taken care of. Father Faucher believes that deep within the man was a very religious spirit.
Father Faucher says that he and his parishioners took the man into their hearts because he represents everyone who has problems dealing with loneliness, depression, and despair during the holidays. Father Faucher says that the church wanted to show that these people do belong somewhere and that this man chose to belong with them. Father Faucher notes that there is an “unsolved sadness” in this case. He says that it needs to be completed. He feels that someday the man will be identified and given back to his family.
The man is buried in Dry Creek Cemetery near Boise. His wish to be cremated has not been fulfilled because he is unidentified. Today, church members still wonder who it was they buried on that cold winter day years ago. In his memory, they have added the words “Unknown Wanderer” to a plaque at the entrance of their prayer garden. And they hope that someday they will learn the name of the man they never knew.
At the time of his death, the man was between thirty-five and forty-five years old, weighed 175 pounds, and was 6’0” tall. He had gray eyes with a hint of brown. He seemed to be “well-groomed”; he was clean-shaven, his hair was styled, and his fingernails were clean.
The man was extremely tanned, had sun-bleached, wavy blond hair, and was dressed in Western-style clothing. Because of this, authorities believe he may have been from somewhere in the southwestern part of the United States, perhaps California, Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas. He also appeared to have an athlete’s build and may have been a swimmer.
Extra Notes:

  • This case first aired on the March 21, 1990 episode.
  • It was originally scheduled to air on the February 7, 1990 episode, but was postponed.
  • It was submitted to the show by a Sacred Heart Catholic Church parishioner.
  • It was excluded from the FilmRise release of the Robert Stack episodes.
  • It was also featured on The Trail Went Cold podcast.
  • The book “Murder & Mayhem in Boise” includes a chapter about it.
  • There was some speculation that the man was connected to the Tylenol murders, a series of poisonings of Tylenol bottles that left seven people dead in Chicago. The bottles were all poisoned with cyanide, which was the same poison that the man used to commit suicide. The murders took place two months before the man’s death. However, no evidence has been found to link the two cases.
  • Some sources state the man was found on December 3 and buried on December 20.

Results: Unsolved - Investigators looked into the possibility that the unidentified man may have been connected to the murders of two priests in the Southwest during the early 1980s. On December 21, 1981, forty-nine-year-old Father Patrick Ryan was found naked, bound, and beaten to death in a motel room in Odessa, Texas. On November 10, 1982, fifty-four-year-old Father Benjamin Carrier was found naked, bound, and asphyxiated in a motel room in Yuma, Arizona.
James Reyos later drunkenly confessed to Father Ryan’s murder. He was convicted and sentenced to thirty-eight years in prison. However, no physical evidence found at the crime scene matched him, and he had time-stamped receipts that showed it was virtually impossible for him to have committed the murder. In 2003, he was paroled, and he continues to maintain his innocence.
Sgt. Richardson was the first to connect the murders and the unidentified man after seeing Reyos’ story on “A Current Affair.” He believes the man had “intimate” connections with the Catholic Church. He notes that the man’s tan and clothing indicate he was from the Southwest, where the murders occurred. The belt, in particular, was traced to Arizona, where Father Carrier was murdered. Father Carrier’s murder also occurred just weeks before the man’s death. It has also been theorized that the man was a priest who often moved throughout the country.
However, no evidence has been found to connect the unidentified man to the murders. There has also been speculation that he was connected to the 1982 murder of Father Reynaldo Rivera, which occurred in New Mexico. However, nothing has been found to connect him to that case either.
In July 2019, Father Faucher was arrested and charged with ten counts of sexual exploitation of a child after child pornography was found on his computer. He later pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. He has since died. Investigators looking into Father Ryan’s murder and the unidentified man have speculated that Father Faucher may have known the man’s identity.
In 2020, a new investigator began investigating the unidentified man’s case. He was surprised to find that the case file only contained a VHS tape with a copy of the “Unsolved Mysteries” broadcast. He contacted the show and asked if they had the man’s suicide note or any other information about the case. The show’s producers still had the note and were able to give it to the investigator along with additional information.
In June 2020, the investigator contacted the show’s producers again and told them he believed he had figured out the man’s identity. However, his identity has yet to be revealed.
In 2021, an anonymous letter writer suggested that the unidentified man may have been James Thomas Cole, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances from Boise in March 1978. Before his disappearance, he had been convicted of stealing money from his company. It has been noted that there is a resemblance between the two. However, it is not known whether authorities have followed up on this lead.
In February 2023, authorities reopened the investigation into Father Ryan’s murder after a review led to “serious questions about Reyos’ guilt.” Fingerprints found at the crime scene were originally thought to be lost. However, in 2022, the Odessa Police Department found them among their archived files. They were run through the national fingerprint database and matched to three men who have since died.
The Innocence Project of Texas is currently working on getting Reyos’ conviction overturned. They are also looking into any possible links between Father Ryan’s murder and the unidentified man.
Grace Leeburn, the woman who found the man’s body, passed away on September 7, 1996, at the age of 105. Her son, Leo, passed away on October 31, 2002, at the age of eighty-one. Virginia Almquist and Sgt. Richardson have also since passed away.