Disappeared but not forgotten, Texas Cold Cases
Glenn Heights – The initial thoughts upon discovering 72-year-old Glenn Heights resident Fred “Sonny” Thompson, formerly of Durant Oklahoma, was an accidental drowning. He was found dead in his swimming pool on November 29, 2016.
Thompson had lived in the Dallas area for a number of years. He had also served in the United States Army and Air National Guard for five years.
According to first responders the death was tentatively ruled an accidental drowning. Almost two years later, in 2018, a Focus Daily News reporter found that may not have been the case.
At the time Glenn Heights Police were remaining tight-lipped regarding the then two-year-old drowning and would not confirm whether any evidence pointed to foul play. Around 7:35 a.m. that morning in November 2016 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.
Accident or Foul Play?
A former Glenn Heights Police Chief Phillip Prasifka remembered the case when contacted in 2018. Prasifka said he had 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 for another agency.
Acting on a lead back in 2018, the Focus Daily News reporter filed an open records request with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office to get Thompson’s final cause of death.
Medical Examiner Found Blunt Force Injuries
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.”
“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.
FDN has also uncovered that the deceased man had filed a police report alleging that family members living with him had stolen his identity just days before his death.
Cold Case Review Accepted
Since that time the investigation has remained open.
Following his death the family members living with him (the stepdaughter and husband) inherited the house. They have reportedly sold it and Glenn Heights Police said as of last month they had moved out of state.
According to past Focus Daily News Editor Joshua Johnson, other family members claim the handwritten will that allowed the stepdaughter to inherit the property was not valid.
Glenn Heights Interim Police Chief Lucas Benson said this week, “The Glenn Heights Police Department has been working to find a determination for this case for several years. The Criminal Investigations Division has requested a cold case review of the incident with the Texas Cold Case Commission with the Sheriff’s Association in Austin. The case has been accepted for review, and we are waiting on a date for the review.”
Who Discovered The Body?
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.
Why Was There Diethyl Ether In His Stomach?
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. Detectives also wonder how the man ended up in his pool on that late autumn day.