Eric Thomes killed himself in connection with Officer Decker slaying; murder weapon found

eric thomas rect.jpeg
Eric Thomes (pictured) is "a person of interest" in the killing of Officer Tom Decker, but authorities aren't yet ready to conclude he was the triggerman.
:::: UPDATE :::: Eric Thomes Facebook page: Profile of the "person of interest" in Officer Decker's murder

At a press conference this afternoon, investigators identified Eric Thomes as the man who killed himself Wednesday night when investigators showed up at his rural Cold Spring house to re-interview him about the murder of Officer Tom Decker.

SEE ALSO: Cold Spring officer shooting: Tom Decker killed while checking on suicidal man

After Thomes killed himself, investigators found the 20-gauge shotgun used to kill Decker in a property Thomes had access to, Wade Setter of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said.

Setter gave the following account of what happened Wednesday.

Just after 2 p.m., investigators showed up at Thomes' home. Though they'd already interviewed him, they wanted to speak to him again after receiving a tip and after noticing that some of the information Thomes gave during an earlier interview was inconsistent.

When the agents approached his house, Thomes fled into a shed and refused to come out. Authorities told him they were there just to talk to him, not to arrest him. Just before 7 p.m., investigators broke into the shed and found Thomes dead. He hung himself.

Subsequent investigating turned up the 20-gauge shotgun used to kill Officer Decker at a different property. Investigators wouldn't say whether Thomes was the owner, but did say he had access to wherever the gun was found.

All of that being said, investigators aren't ready to conclude Thomes is the man who killed Decker. In fact, asked if today's news means Ryan Larson's name has been cleared, Setter said "We have not excluded anyone as a suspect in this case."

Setter said it's imperative authorities receive tips that can help them "reconstruct the activities and conduct of Eric Thomes over the last six or seven weeks."

"We need to find out where's he's been, who he has been talking to," Setter said, adding that authorities are "a long way from concluding" the investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Stearns County Sheriff's Office.


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6 comments
Tori Hutchens
Tori Hutchens

Why do you guys share the most awful stuff? I'm hiding you from my feed. Yuck and yuck and yuck... all yuck.

HerbDickersoWoreBlue
HerbDickersoWoreBlue

You watch too much tv pal.  there are no big drug gangs running the show.  the thin blue line is stronger than any FX series fantasies you have concocted.  I had a sweater like the one that officer is wearing once and I take umbrage at your slander

jo1glex
jo1glex

Wow, there is a closet full of additional shoes to drop in this case.  What a mess.  The other cop's behavior has never made any sense.  Actually, what's been reported about Decker's actions hasn't made much sense.  Then they arrest Larson and have to release him for a total lack of evidence.  Now this guy conveniently kills himself and hey!  Whaddayaknow.  There's the murder weapon.

I'm not buying a word of this until all the evidence has been presented and fully vetted.

For now I'm sticking with the bar-room theory, equally unsupported by any evidence and making just as much sense as what's been released to the press.  It goes like this.

Remember the weird story about the pallet that went from place to place in Cold Spring with all the cocaine wrapped up in it until somebody accidentally cut it open and all the coke fell out and they called the cops?  It was a large quantity, meaning big dollars in a town like that.  Somebody was looking for it and lost out on a lot of money, probably owed to bad people, when that delivery was botched.

The deceased cop was a partier.  He knew something or somebody associated with the cocaine.  Having lived in a small town, I know it's not out of the question he was heavily involved in the local drug trade.  He would certainly have known all the players, both professionally and personally.  The cocaine delivery got screwed up and nobody had enough money to satisfy the bad people.  The cop got set up by his part-time partner.  They tried to hang a frame on Larson, but had so little evidence it didn't pass the smell test.  Now they got this Thomes guy, a multiple-time loser who probably knew all the principals as well, and badgered him until he hanged himself (or was suicided?  We won't know now).  And the missing murder weapon shows up.  Looks a lot better than the Larson frameup.

The key to this will come over the next few months.  If Thomes really was the bad guy, this will be the end of it.  If Thomes wasn't the real bad guy, somebody is still out a lot of money for all the cocaine in the pallet.  Somebody else will have to pay.  If I were the part-time cop who was Decker's partner that night, I would be a very nervous fellow indeed. 

Pure irresponsible, unsubstantiated suspicion on my part here.  But the various and ever-changing stories the police have floated have made a lot less sense.  The fact that they can't get a straight story together is a very bad sign.  It makes a lot more sense to suppose a big dope ring is looking for blood and the repercussions haven't stopped yet.

David Gabriel Robinson
David Gabriel Robinson

How do they know that's the murder weapon? How do you do ballistics testing on a shotgun? Sounds fishy to me. Maybe an "assisted" suicide, and a planted gun. Too much TV for me I guess.

Greg Overall
Greg Overall

So what would have been this guys motive, and where, specifically was the weapon found?

jo1glex
jo1glex

@HerbDickersoWoreBlue I'm not sure what you're talking about, but it is pretty funny.

It's a small town.  Not unlike the town I grew up in.  All these people knew each other, at least slightly.  Something more than what we've been told went down.  Maybe it didn't have anything to do with the large amount (for a small town) of coke that went poof.  They're going to have to explain why they think this Thomes guy was hanging around where Decker had been sent to check on Larson's well-being.  Why Thomes had a shotgun.  Why the backup cop claimed to have seen somebody with a handgun.  Right there is enough to get David Lynch interested, I'd say.

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