A Tazewell County coroner’s jury ruled the drug overdose death of a Morton man a homicide on Thursday and it is now in the state’s attorney’s hands to possibly charge the persons responsible for supplying the drugs.
Thomas Thompson Jr., 26, was found unresponsive at his parents’ home on Westshore Drive the morning of Jan. 5.
Sgt. Jason Miller of the Morton Police Department testified Thompson was lying on the living room in a T-shirt and boxer shorts, the victim of a possible drug overdose.
Miller said Thompson had a dark substance around his mouth and was cool to the touch.
County coroner Dennis Conover said an autopsy revealed Thompson died of a combination of cocaine, amphetamines and methadone in his system.
“There were high levels in his blood and urine and the pathologist said it likely killed him within hours of consumption,” Conover said.
Conover added Thompson also had cannabis and the anti-depressant Zoloft in his system, but those did not contribute to his death.
Miller said a search of Thompson’s bedroom revealed a small amount of marijuana, white rock cocaine, a bong, hitter pipe and hitter box.
A police report reveals prescriptions for depression medication and a digital scale were also found in the room.
Through several police interviews, Miller said authorities discovered Thompson had gone with Jennifer Parr — an acquaintance Thompson had only known a few weeks — to another friend’s home, Rob Kessler, on Jan. 4.
Miller said Thompson asked Kessler, a heroin addict who uses the methadone clinic for his recovery, if he could purchase some methadone from him.
Miller said Kessler sold Thompson 40 mg of methadone for $20 and poured it into a pill bottle.
“Kessler told us he warned Tom not to take it all at one time and just a small portion to see how it would make him feel,” Miller said.
The pill bottle has not been recovered by authorities.
A police report says Parr also warned him to not take very much.
The report also says in some of the police interviews, Thompson was referred to as a “cookie monster,” meaning he would try any type of drug.
Authorities also do not know where the crack cocaine came from, but Thompson’s identical twin brother, Tim, alleged he has a pretty good idea.
“I know he got it from Jennifer Parr. She sells it, and he told me he got coke from her and spent three days smoking it with her. She depleted his bank account in those three days and that’s what people like that do,” Tim testified.
Tim described his brother as an affable, likable people pleaser who had aspirations to be a chef and loved to cook for everyone.
Page 2 of 2 - Tim said he was aware his brother smoked pot and drank alcohol, but he is positive this was the first time he had experimented with cocaine and methadone.
“He always felt alone, although he was always surrounded by friends and family. He would get himself into foolish, perilous situations and he paid the consequences,” Tim added.
Thompson’s father, Thomas Sr., said he discovered on his son’s bank statement he had gone to a hotel with Parr on Dec. 31, just two days after his grandfather passed away.
“I didn’t think she was his girlfriend, just a crackhead,” the father testified.
Just five days after Thompson’s death, Parr was stopped by Morton police on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession/sale of a hypodermic needle, illegal transportation of alcohol and driving with a suspended/revoked driver’s license.
Thomas Sr. testified his son had talked about going back to college and wanting to get help for his drug and alcohol addiction shortly before his death.
“He was going to be a great chef. When he lived in Utah, he had a side job at a restaurant and got into brewing beer. He taught me how to do it and soon it was a family activity. The day before he died, we were actually cooking together,” the father said.
After the homicide verdict was read by Conover, the family broke down into tears of joy.
“It’s just really tragic, and we would like to see the police get these people off the street and someone to go to jail for this,” the father said.
Thomas Sr. said he is also confused by the “cookie monster” designation for his son, considering the people involved in the evening’s events only knew Thompson for less than a week.
“Tom was not a saint, but he didn’t get into this before meeting these people,” he added.
"This matter remains under investigation for criminal charges," Tazewell County State's Attorney Stu Umholtz said Wednesday.
Morton Police Chief Nick Graff said he has not been contacted by the state’s attorney’s office about any charges in the case.