Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval
County, Case #93-5394
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
Attorney, Criminal Trial:
Richard Nichols, Esq.
Attorneys, Direct Appeal: Nancy
Daniels – Public Defender & Steven Seliger, Esq.
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:
Mary Catherine Bonner - Registry
Date of Offense: 09/12/91
Date of Sentence: 07/22/94
Circumstances of Offense:
William Thomas was convicted and
sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Rachel Thomas.
To avoid paying his portion of
their impending divorce settlement, William Thomas planned to kidnap and
kill his wife.
On 09/12/91, Thomas and his friend, Douglas Schraud,
went to Rachel’s house in order to kidnap her. Thomas beat Rachel and
then tied her up. Rachel attempted to flee by hopping outside, but
Thomas dragged her back into the house by her hair. Thomas then put
Rachel into the truck of her car and left the scene. Rachel Thomas was
never seen again.
Thomas was eventually indicted
for the murder of his wife in May, 1993. Thomas had made numerous
inculpatory statements about Rachel Thomas’ disappearance; however,
suspicion fell heavily upon Thomas after his mother was murdered.
Authorities believed that Thomas killed his mother in order to prevent
her from implicating him in the murder of Rachel Thomas.
William Thomas was also
convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment (CC #93-5393) for the
05/04/93 murder of his mother, Elsie Thomas, who he killed in order to
keep her from talking to the police about the death of Rachel Thomas.
On 07/14/94, Thomas pled guilty to the murder of Elsie Thomas. In
exchange for a recommendation of life in this case (CC #93-5393), Thomas
waived his right to appeal any guilt phase issue arising out of
the trial for the murder of his wife, Rachel Thomas (CC #93-5394)
Douglas Schraud was convicted of
Kidnapping and, on 10/07/94, was sentenced to
12 years in prison. He was
released 11/08/98 after serving only four years.
05/20/93 Thomas was
indicted on the following:
Count I: First-Degree
Count II: Burglary
Count III: Kidnapping
03/24/94 Thomas was found guilty on all
counts charged in the indictment.
03/30/94 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury,
by an 11 to 1 majority, voted for the death penalty.
07/22/94 The defendant was sentenced as
First-Degree Murder – Death
Burglary – Life
Kidnapping – Life
On 08/25/94, Thomas filed a
Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In that appeal, he argued
that the State failed to prove corpus delecti.
The Florida Supreme Court noted:
In the present case, the State's
evidence showed the following: Douglas Schraud was present when Thomas
beat, bound and abducted Rachel in the trunk of her car. Later that day,
Thomas met a friend at the Roosevelt Mall and the friend saw him park
and abandon Rachel's car after wiping it down with a towel. Thomas's
palm print was found on the hood of the car. Rachel has not been seen or
heard from since. It was uncharacteristic of Rachel to miss appointments
or to leave behind her family and son--she had never even stayed out all
night before. She not only missed a planned evening with a friend, she
left behind her gym bag, purse, driver's license, a photograph of her
son, twenty dollars in cash she had obtained only an hour before she
disappeared, all her clothes, and the $ 750 she had in her bank account.
Moreover, she disappeared the day before payday. She had given coworkers
no indication she was unhappy in her job, and had never expressed to her
family any desire to leave or get away from it all. Although Rachel was
a neat person and kept her home immaculate, after her disappearance her
garage door was left standing wide open and the door into the house from
the garage was left unlocked. There were signs of a struggle in the
foyer, as well as blood on the baseboard and on the vent. Blankets were
missing from the garage. Witnesses testified that Thomas wore tennis
shoes the evening of the murder and there was a tennis shoe print on the
floor of the garage. When asked by police, however, Thomas denied owning
any tennis shoes, and the next day he collected all his tennis shoes and
threw them away.
Based on the foregoing, we
conclude that the State introduced sufficient evidence to prove the
corpus delicti of the murder and to lay the predicate for admission of
Thomas's inculpatory statements. We note that Thomas made many
inculpatory statements and admissions. The State introduced sufficient
evidence to show that Rachel is dead and Thomas killed her.
Thomas also argued that the
court erred in failing to consider mitigating evidence in the sentencing
order. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence
of death on 03/20/97.
Thomas next filed a Petition for
Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied
Next, Thomas filed a 3.850
Motion in the State Circuit Court, which was denied on 04/26/01. He
then filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on
06/29/01, in which the denial of Thomas’ 3.850 was affirmed. A mandate
was issued 03/03/03.
Thomas filed a Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District on
03/22/04. The petition is pending.
SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE:
slayer of ex-wife and mother.
DISPOSITION: Condemned on one
count + life terms for second count, burglary and kidnapping, 1994.
William Gregory Thomas
William Gregory Thomas
William Gregory Thomas