GLENN HEIGHTS—During the early hours of November 29, 2016 a 72-year-old Glenn Heights resident was found dead in his swimming pool. According to first responders the death was tentatively ruled an accidental drowning. Almost two years later Focus Daily News reporters have found that may not be the case.
Glenn Heights Police are remaining tight-lipped regarding the two year old drowning and would not confirm whether any evidence pointed to foul play. Around 7:35 a.m. that morning Fred “Sonny” Thompson was found dead in his swimming pool. According to reports he lived in the 400 block of Sleepy Top Road, just south of the Hampton and Bear Creek Road intersection.
The investigation remains open and police have refused to release any initial reports or officer notes surrounding the incident.
FDN has uncovered however, that the deceased man filed a police report alleging that family members living with him had stolen his identity just days before his death.
Thompson was born on October 17, 1944 in Durant, Oklahoma. He was raised 30 minutes north in the town of Kingston, where he graduated from Kingston High School. He lived in Michigan before moving to Texas where he worked as a tool and die maker. For the last 16 years before his death, Thompson worked in the maintenance department for JCPenney. Thompson served in the United States Army and Air National Guard for 5 years. He was a member of St. Jude Catholic Church in Arlington, Texas.
Former Glenn Heights Police Chief Phillip Prasifka remembered the case. He recalled that first responders discovered a deceased male at that location. The deceased was then taken to the Dallas County Institute of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy and the cause of death was noted as pending. The following year, Prasifka left Glenn Heights to lead the Robinson, Texas Police Department.
Acting on a lead weeks ago Focus Daily News reporters filed an open records request with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office to get Thompson’s final cause of death.
The conclusion from the Medical Examiner read, “Based on the case history and autopsy findings, it is our opinion that Fred Thompson, a 72-year-old white male, died because of blunt force injuries and possible drowning. It is unknown whether the head injuries were the result of an accidental fall or were inflicted, or how or when the decedent arrived in the pool. The manner of death is further clouded by the presence of diethyl ether in the decedent’s blood; it is unknown whether the decedent self-administered the ether or inhaled it unwillingly. In addition, the decedent had recently filed a police report against other family members living with him, alleging identity theft. The manner of death is therefore undetermined.”
Circumstances Surrounding Death
In the interest of due diligence the autopsy report was read to a representative from the police department and it was indicated that this was the first that he had heard of it.
In other words, it appears the police department were not aware of the finding of the medical examiner’s report until being notified by Focus Daily News. The examination was performed almost two years ago, and the manner of death was undetermined at that time.
“Found” is written next to the coroner’s report date of death leading one to believe perhaps Thompson died on November 27, 2016 and was not found until November 29, 2016 at 7:34 a.m.
It is also not known who originally discovered the body and what circumstances led up to that finding. The coroner’s report does indicate Thompson was found unresponsive, floating in a backyard pool.
The coroner’s report also indicates Thompson was fully dressed when first viewed. He was clad in a navy-blue sweatshirt, gray boxers, jeans with a black belt, white socks and white shoes. This leaves one to surmise Thompson was not out for a swim before drowning in the swimming pool. Also, in his possession were coins and a key ring with keys found in his pocket.
Ether Found In Thompson’s Body
More disturbing was the discovery of 75ml of diethyl ether in Thompson’s stomach. Diethyl ether or simply ether, is a colorless, highly volatile flammable liquid. It is commonly used as a solvent in laboratories and as a starting fluid for some engines. The compound is also the active ingredient in chloroform and in early medicine used as an anesthetic.
There are even reports of the chemical being associated with drug abuse. The inhalation of ether vapors leads to effects that range from euphoria to stupor to unconsciousness. According to the Centers for Disease Control the side-effects of ether include cough, sore throat, drowsiness, labored breathing and headaches.
It is unknown as to why Thompson might have willingly or unwillingly inhaled this substance.
FDN Executive Editor Joshua C. Johnson contributed to this report.