Tom Tomich Was A Serial Killer
January 20, 2007
Tom Tomich took his
secrets with him as he leaped to his death from an Omaha high-rise,
leaving behind investigators who now say they doubt Tomich was a serial
committed suicide on Nov. 16, a day after his former wife's remains were
identified. Soon after that, authorities said they discovered a link
between him and a slain Omaha prostitute.
In November, Douglas
County chief deputy Marty Bilek said, "Tomich is a killer who was also
active in the 1980s, and we know now he might have killed again."
Tomich soon was being
investigated in the slayings of four prostitutes. But Iowa and Nebraska
investigators now said they haven't found enough evidence to implicate
The slayings remain
He Could've Convicted Tomich
November 29, 2006
If a man had not jumped
to his death the day after his wife’s body was identified, could
prosecutors have brought him to justice?
County Attorney’s Office has declared the case of Lois Tomich’s 1983
death officially closed. The 28-year-old’s body was found in barrel in
May near the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department, but the remains
weren't identified until earlier this month. The next day, Tomich’s ex-husband,
Tom, jumped from the Rorick Condominiums in downtown Omaha to his death.
County Attorney Matt Wilber, Tom Tomich’s demise was an opportunity
"I was looking forward
to this trial. I knew it'd be a tough one, but I felt like we had enough,"
Lois Tomich was
murdered more than 20 years ago, forensic research showed. As
researchers worked to identify her, her ex-husband became the lead
suspect."Spouses are always top suspects for us," Wilber said.
Proving the case,
however, would have been challenging, Wilber said. The best evidence
linking Tom Tomich to the murder was admissions Tomich himself allegedly
"I have two different
ladies who were involved in romantic relationships with Mr. Tomich that
both said over the years, he confessed to them that he put his wife Lois
in the barrel, in the water," Wilber said.
Wilber said those
witnesses were scared of Tom Tomich and reluctant to testify."So, just
trying to figure out what do we do to make sure they feel safe and get
the information that we need," Wilber said, was a challenge.
Had the case gone to
trial, Wilber said he believes those witnesses would have come forward.
But there would have been other challenges for the prosecution."I'd
consider probably one of my biggest hurdles is I have no crime scene,"
the area where the body was dumped but they said they had no idea where
Lois Tomich was actually killed. They did, however, know how she was
murdered. At a trial, Wilber said, a forensic anthropologist would have
testified that Lois Tomich died of strangulation, and the murder weapon
had been preserved.
"There's a piece of
wire around the neck," said investigator Leland Bennett. "There was a
clothes hanger attached to the wire; hanger used as an anchor to tighten
that wire."Bennett said the wire was still imbedded in her vertebrae ."Honestly,
if it wasn't for that coat hanger, we'd have never known, because all
soft tissue was gone," Wilber said. "It had deteriorated over the years."Wilber
said there was also evidence that the killer knew his victim."Obviously,
the manner of her death -- the fact she was fully clothed -- this was
someone who knew her, had the ability to get up close," Wilber said.
The way the killer
disposed of the body, in a barrel filled with cement and weighing close
to a ton, also gave the prosecutor a clue."It had to be someone who had
access to heavy construction equipment," he said."Her ex-husband worked
around a construction company at that time, and was involved in certain
paving," Leland said.
Wilber said he believes
he would have eventually gotten the barrel's manufacturer and the type
of cement that was used to use in his prosecution.
Beyond the physical
evidence, Wilber said he was building a circumstantial case against Tom
Tomich that included a history of domestic violence. Even his daughter,
who was only 5 when her mother disappeared, told investigators about the
stormy relationship her parents had.
"She remembers several
beatings and her mom always going to the hospital," Leland said.
Wilber said jurors
would have heard Tomich's motive for killing his ex-wife."We answered
that question when we learned about the relationship she was entering
into with his brother, and how that drove him insane, got in a fight,
physical altercation with his own brother," Wilber said.
said, Tom Tomich's nervous demeanor when they interviewed him the day
before he jumped indicated guilt.
"He couldn't sit still,"
Leland said. "(We) caught him in several discrepancies. We knew he
wasn't being truthful with us; only simple questions we were asking.
"Would it have been
enough to convince a jury? Creighton University Law School professor
Collin Mangrum said it all lies in the testimony."If the jury believes
the witnesses, you almost certainly will get a conviction," Mangrum said.
"You can talk about a case in the abstract. The prosecutors have to try
it. The defense attorney have to put on the best case they can, so to
judge it in the abstract is a precarious thing to do."Despite that,
Wilber said he is confident he would have won."We had some hurdles to
get over, but nothing I thought we couldn't overcome," he said.
Into Link Between Unsolved Murder Cases
November 21, 2006
Several unsolved murder
cases in the metro are getting another look as investigators look for
any possible connection to Tom Tomich.
Tomich killed his ex-wife, Lois, in 1983.
As details of the case
emerged, he jumped to his death last week.
Tomich also has a
connection to Debra Ann Barajas who was found dead in Mills County last
County records show
Tomich bailed her out of jail shortly before she went missing.Tomich has
just been called a person of interest in Barajas' disappearance.
Those close to Brianne
Smith said they wonder whether Tomich has any ties to her murder. She
was found dead in June near Glenwood, Iowa.
The woman who helped
raise Smith said she's especially curious about her last phone call with
Edie Derry said Smith
called her just before she disappeared in April, but Derry did not
recognize the incoming phone number."I would say that I think he's
connected. It just seems a little strange that all of it came full
circle this way," Derry said.
The Mills County
Attorney said that at this point there's no reason to believe Tomich has
anything to do with Smith's death.
A History of Violence
21st November 2006
Thomas Tomich and Lois Fraisonnet were married in
1980 and began their life together. By 1981, however, they were divorced
and their baby girl was living with her mom. In the background where
hints that the reason for the divorce was Thomas’ temper and physical
abuse of Lois.
In 1983 though, things were looking up for Lois. She
had gotten some distance from her ex-husband and there was a new man in
her life. He was Mark Dawson, Thomas’ brother. This evidently did not
sit well with Tomich.
Later in the same year Lois mysteriously disappeared.
Her father filed a missing person’s report with the local police. During
their investigation they talked with her friends, even her ex-husband.
His assertion was that she had moved to Texas. But police were not sure
they believed his story.
“Tomich had gotten in a fight with his brother over
her, and made some statements that he wasn’t gonna put up with his
brother living with his ex-wife and raising his kid,” according to
But with no firm evidence of foul play and no body
they could not investigate further. And so the disappearance followed
the path of so many missing person’s reports, into the basement of the
police department, where the cold case files were stored.
Thomas went on to remarry. But this wife also
reported being a victim of abuse at his hands. She however, never
In 1997 it was again remarked that Thomas Tomich had
a temper, when a woman whom he lived with filed an order of protection
against him after she claimed he struck her in the leg and mouth,
requiring stitches and visit to the hospital. But this still did not
link him directly to his first wife’s disappearance.
Twenty three years passed.
In May of this year, men searching in a tree dump for
mushrooms found a barrel partially buried. They kicked at its rusty
sides, and when it fell open, they saw bones encased in concrete within
The police were notified and recovered the 55-gallon
drum, which had been filled with 800 lbs. of construction-grade
concrete. This opened up an interesting theory, because Tomich was
working at a construction company during the time that Lois disappeared.
The construction company he worked at used construction-grade concrete
similar to that used in the barrel.
They recovered the body of a woman between the ages
of 24 and 32 years of age. She was approximately 5′ 8″ tall and had kept
good care of herself. She had short brown hair. The clothes that were
found with the body were identified as having been manufactured in 1983.
The description matched Lois Tomich, and probably dozens of other
missing women in the area.
A forensic artist then went to work, creating a
portrait of the woman from her facial features. Again the likeness to
Lois Tomich was there.
“Even though I’ve got a photo that’s similar, I still
got to have DNA,” said Leland Bennett, a Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s
Department investigator assigned to the case.
So a DNA sample was extracted from Lois’ daughter,
now 23-years-old. Two months later, the results were back, proving
Bennett’s theory correct. This was the body of Lois Tomich.
An autopsy confirmed that her death was also not an
accident. She was most likely strangled with the metal coat hanger that
was found in the barrel.
Now the investigation moved from identifying the body
to finding the killer. The first and best suspect was her ex-husband,
Police began to check out their suspect and located
his other wife. She told investigators something interesting he said to
her during an argument.
“One night he told her that she would end up in a
barrel like Lois did,” Bennett said.
By Wednesday investigators were speaking with Tomich
and his story was not matching up well.
“(We) caught him in several discrepancies,” Bennett
said. “We knew he wasn’t being truthful with us. These were only
simple questions we were asking.”
Police felt they had their man, and were in the
process of obtaining an arrest warrant. But then the unexpected happened.
Tomich went to the Rorick Apartments in Omaha, NE
where he worked as a janitor. He climbed to one of the top floors and
then jumped to his death.
Police feel that this proves, at least to them, his
guilt in the murder of his ex-wife Lois. The open case into her
disappearance has been closed.
But now more questions have been raised, and more
women are being found dead that knew Tomich. Investigators are asking
the obvious question, is he responsible for these deaths as well?
During their investigation, police realized that
Tomich associated with prostitutes. The Rorick Apartments, according the
reviews found on Google Maps paint a dim picture of life in the building.
Hookers sat outside on the front steps 24/7 & the
place was crawling with disease. Oh, not to mention the night I came
home to find an unknown male passed out on my living room floor, drunk
with pee all over himself & the rug.
If you want roaches as roommates and hookers as
neighbors, then move into the rorick!!
So as you can see, if these are to be believed, his
job gave him the ability to find plenty of “action” if he wanted. It
also appears, if these cases turn out to be attributed to him, that he
liked to travel between Nebraska and Iowa.
There are several cases, none with many details that
are being investigated as possible victims of Thomas Tomich.
Amy Hajek, 23 - Found on Christmas
Eve in 1999 in an irrigation ditch just northeast of Fremont.
Teresa Windham, 17 - Found about two
miles northwest of where Hajek’s body was found.
Debra Barajas, 44 - Last seen May 25
— nine days after Tomich bailed her out of jail — and was discovered
dead on November 14, 2006 in southwestern Iowa.
Brianne Smith, 25 - Prostitute from
Omaga that was found in June in Glenwood, which is the same town where
Barajas’ body was found.
Police are also looking at Tomich as a person of
interest in the deaths of two other Omaha prostitutes, Michelle
Lamere and Stephanie Caldwall.
Whether Link Exists Between Victim, Tomich
November 20, 2006
officials continue to review open murder cases, looking for whether
there are ties to a man who committed suicide in Omaha a week ago.
Authorities said Tom
Tomich was considered to be the man responsible for the death of his
former wife, Lois, in 1983 and then putting her body in barrel.
Last spring, Tomich
bailed Debra Barajas out of jail, according to authorities. On Friday,
investigators identified Barajas as the woman found dead in Mills County,
The family of Brianne
Smith raised questions about her death. Smith's body was found on a road
near Glenwood in June.
The woman who helped
raise Smith said she does not know whether or not Brianne knew Tomich,
but recent discoveries about his past make her wonder."She wasn't a bad
girl, she just hadn't found her way home yet," said Edie Derry, who
helped raise Smith.Investigators have never determined who killed her.
Derry said she is
questioning whether Tomich could have been involved."I would say that I
think he's connected. It just seems a little strange that all of it came
full circle this way," Derry said.
Derry said her
suspicions peaked when she heard about a connection between Tomich and
Barajas."It wasn't that far from where they found Brianne so that in
itself seems a little strange," Derry said.
Derry also wonders
about her last phone call with Smith. She said Smith called her in late
April just before her disappearance, but the incoming phone number
"She called from a
phone number that we didn't recognize so I don't know -- could be a
connection, maybe not," Derry said.
Derry and her husband
are now raising and planning to adopt Smith's two young children."We
just tell them that Mommy's in heaven. That's the best we can tell them,"
Derry said that Smith's
death has been a surreal experience for their family. She said the focus
has been on Smith's children."It'd be nice to have some answers but I
think our main focus is making sure these children are brought up happy,
healthy, and have good lives," Derry said.
Go Behind Scenes Of Homicide
Tomich Case Ends In Unexpected Way For
November 17, 2006
Investigators who worked six months to
solve the mystery of a woman's body in a barrel saw a bizarre twist that
ended the investigation on Thursday.
KETV NewsWatch 7 had exclusive behind-the-scenes
access to Pottawattamie County investigators since May, when the remains
of a woman were found in a 55-gallon drum near the Pottawattamie County
On Wednesday, the woman was identified
as Lois Tomich, who disappeared 23 years ago. On Thursday, her ex-husband,
Tom, jumped from the Rorick Condominiums in downtown Omaha. Prosectuors
said Tom Tomich was the only suspect in his wife's death.
"Lois's killer is Tom Tomich. I don't
think there's any doubt we have in our minds," said Pottawattamie County
Attorney Matt Wilber.
Prosecutors said her ex-husband
strangled her with a coat hanger in 1983, then buried her body using
equipment from his construction job.
Tom Tomich jumped to his death just
hours after investigators first questioned him, and just before they
said they were about to get a warrant for his arrest.
KETV NewsWatch 7 investigator Carol
Kloss and photojournalist Pete Soby have been watching the progress of
the investigation since May. They learned the anatomy of a cold-case
The decomposed body of Lois Tomich was
found stuffed in a rusty barrel and stuck in a marshy area of Council
Bluffs. The scene is still marked with yellow evidence flags.
It was an expert's sketch that first
gave prosecutors a face of the victim they'd later identify through DNA
as Lois Tomich.
"The thing that would come to my mind
-- this is going to be a hard one," said Leland Bennett, a Pottawattamie
County Sheriff's Department investigator speaking with Kloss and Soby
shortly after the body was found.
Bennett said mushroom hunters
discovered the rusty barrel. When they knocked a hole in the barrel,
they saw bones.
Bennett said he immediately suspected
homicide, but the body had been inside the drum for a long time and
trying to identify the victim would prove to be extremely difficult.
Hundreds of tips came in the first
week after the discovery hit the media.
The barrel was sent to the Iowa Crime
Lab in Ankeny, where a forensic anthropologist reconstructed the
skeletal remains. A forensic artist began to paint a picture of who the
person was."It's a person who took care of herself. She took good care
of herself," Bennett said.
Investigators said they could tell it
was a female between the ages of 24 and 32 years old who was about 5
feet 8 inches tall and had short, brown hair. She was wearing Lee jeans
that had been manufactured in 1983.
By September, Bennet said, through
process of elimination he had a pretty good idea who the victim was.
"This lady's name is Lois Fraisonnet,"
Bennett told Kloss and Soby in the midst of the investigation. "Her
married name is Lois Tomich."The Fraisonnet family had reported Lois
Tomich missing in November 1983. Her description fit the physical
evidence and her facial features matched the artist's sketch, but it
still wasn't enough.
"Even though I've got a photo that's
similar, I still got to have DNA," Bennett said.
It would be two months before the DNA
match came back. Prosecutors waited, knowing if their hunch was right,
they said, Tom Tomich was their prime suspect.
The ex-husband had a history of
violence and one of his subsequent wives told investigators that Tomich
had abused her as well."One night he told her that she would end up in a
barrel like Lois did," Bennett said.
Investigators waited until Wednesday
to talk to Tom Tomich, saying they didn't want to tip him off earlier.
That interview convinced investigators that they had their man."(We)
caught him in several discrepancies," Bennett said. "We knew he wasn't
being truthful with us. These were only simple questions we were asking.
"As prosecutors started the process of
getting a warrant, Tom Tomich killed himself. Bennett said he never
expected it to end that way."The case is solved, but is it closed? The
county attorney's office will have to let us know," Bennett said.
Wilber said the case is closed.
Minutes before Thursday's news conference, Wilber took some satisfaction
in clearing the complicated cold case.
The Tomich and Fraisonnet families
told investigators that they do not wish to talk to the media.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff
Danker said Tomich's 28-year-old daughter took the news the hardest,
having just learned within the last couple of days that both her mother
and father died violent deaths.
Tom Tomich's past includes a laundry
list of run-ins with the law. In the 1970s he had several court dates on
drug and DUI charges, records show.
Investigators said that just before he
killed his wife, Tomich had a fight with his stepbrother, Mark Dawson,
who was dating Lois Tomich."This enraged him," Wilber said. "He wasn't
going to tolerate his brother living with his ex-wife and raising his
child."Tom Tomich was married at least three times. Investigators said
he had a history of domestic abuse. One woman he lived with went to
court to get a protection order against him for hitting and punching her,
Mills Co.: Tomich Could Have Played
Role In Remains Found
November 16, 2006
Remains found in Mills County, Iowa,
could possibly have a connection to an Omaha suicide.Documents from
Sarpy County show Tom Tomich bonded Debra Ann Barajas out of jail
earlier this year. She's been missing since that time. Tomich listed
himself as "a friend" on jail documents.
Tomich jumped to his death from a
downtown Omaha apartment building on Thursday, police said. Tomich was
the lone suspect in his wife Lois' death 23 years ago, prosecutors said.
On Tuesday, a farm worker discovered
human remains near a field eight miles south of Council Bluffs.
Mills County officials said that if
autopsy results show that the remains found this week prove to be
Barajas, investigators will consider Tomich a "person of interest" in
Pott. Co. Atty.: First-Degree
Murder Charges Were In Works
November 16, 2006
Dead Man Is Ex-Husband Of Woman Found
A man found dead near a downtown Omaha
apartment building jumped to his death, investigators said, and was once
married to a woman whose body was found in barrel in Council Bluffs,
Iowa, last May.
Thomas Tomich was found dead outside
the Rorick Condominiums.On Wednesday, Pottawattamie County investigators
revealed the identity of a woman whose body was found in a 55-gallon
barrel in May. She is Lois Tomich, who disappeared in 1983.
Police said Thomas Tomich committed
suicide. His body was found at about 7 a.m. in the parking lot of the
building at 22nd Street and St. Mary's Avenue.
Pottawattamie County investigators
said they interviewed Thomas Tomich on Wednesday afternoon after his
wife's body was identified. They said he was reluctant to offer answers,
acted nervous and asked for an attorney. A second interview was
scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday."He was very nervous. Even though our
questions didn't focus on him being a suspect, he asked for an attorney,"
said Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker.
Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt
Wilber said his investigation was leading to a first-degree murder
warrant for Thomas Tomich. He said more than one person had told
investigators that Tomich has talked about putting his wife in a barrel,
and Wilber said those people felt scared for their own lives.
Investigation Pointed To Husband
Wilber said the investigation on the
barrel showed that Lois Tomich died of strangulation and a coat hanger
was found around her neck. He said that suggested to investigators that
Lois Tomich knew her attacker because whoever killed her would have had
to approach her from behind from close range.
Wilber said there had been reports of
domestic violence in the Tomich marriage. Shortly before Lois Tomich's
death, Wilber said, Lois Tomich had taken up a romantic relationship
with her ex-husband's brother. Wilber said the brother had a physical
fight over the relationship.
Wilber described the condition of the
barrel found by mushroom hunters in May. He said they saw what appeared
to be human remains through a rusted hole in the barrel. The barrel was
taken to the Iowa Crime Lab in Ankeny.
There, investigators found that the
barrel was filled with cement. Analysis done on the cement by the FBI in
Quantico, Va., showed that it was a grade mostly available to
construction professionals. The weight of the barrel with the cement and
body inside was over 800 pounds, Wilber said, and that suggested that
whoever dumped the body either had help, or had a large tool to help
lift it. Tomich worked for a paving company at one time, and that was
another factor that pointed to him in his wife's death, Wilber said.
Case Is Closed
Wilber said Tom Tomich's death ends
the investigation into Lois Tomich's death."Tom Tomich was the lone
suspect in the murder of his wife. From our perspective, the
investigation is now officially closed," Wilber said, before expressing
regret that the couple's daughter has now lost two parents to
violence.Wilber said the Council Bluffs police briefly reopened Tomich's
disappearance case in the 1990s, but couldn't find out if Lois was
deceased and had no evidence that her husband may have killed her.
Wilber said Omaha police found some
paperwork in Tomich's pickup truck at the Rorick. Wilber said he
believes it contains life insurance paperwork and could contain a
suicide note, but Omaha police are in charge of that portion of the
investigation.Danker said Tomich has remarried at least twice and had
Lois Tomich's family told
investigators that they do not wish to comment to the media on the
Leads Came From Everywhere
Wilber said Lois Tomich's death would
never have been confirmed if it weren't for Mother Nature. He said the
barrel was initially submerged in water in an area behind where the
Pottawattamie County Jail now sits. Enviromental conditions made the
area go from wet to dry over the years and revealed the barrel.
After the discovery of the barrel in
May, Danker said, calls flooded in from across the nation from the
families of missing persons. Wilber said the initial finding that the
barrel may have been sitting in Pottawattamie County for five to 25
years didn't narrow the search much.
Details revealed in Ankeny, such as
the color of the hair and the fact that the jeans Lois Tomich were
wearing were manufacted by Lee Jeans Co. in 1983, started to narrow the
Investigators said on Wednesday that
they took DNA from the Tomiches' daughter to use in a new type of
analysis called mitochondrial DNA testing. The test was done in a crime
lab in Minnesota. Danker said this is one of the first times the lab has
used this particular test, and were it not for that kind of analysis,
Lois Tomich would still be unidentified.
Wilber said investigators in Ankeny
couldn't get enough material from Lois Tomich's body to use standard DNA
testing to match her daughter's sample. He said that if the barrel had
been found 10 years earlier, investigators would not have been able to
identify the victim because the technology would not have allowed it.
Thomas Tomich's Death Ruled Suicide
November 16, 2006
say that 50-year-old Thomas Tomich killed himself Thursday morning, 23
years after he murdered his ex-wife Lois and one day after her remains
were identified as those found in a barrel last May.
body was found outside of the Rorick Apartments in Omaha Thursday
morning. Those apartments are located at 604 South 22nd Street.
Authorities say that Thomas Tomich killed himself. He
leaped from a building.
Prosecutors say Thomas Tomich killed Lois Tomich and
they now consider this case closed.
Mr. Tomich's body was discovered when police
responded to a report of a man down shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday.
Officers found Mr. Tomich's body in a parking lot on the west side of
After 23 years of mystery, the case began to unfold
when mushroom hunters discovered skeletal remains in a rusted out 55-gallon
steel drum in an area north of Council Bluffs last May.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker says
officials were able to identify the body with a match to a family
Danker says Thomas Tomich was the primary suspect in
his ex-wife's death.
Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber says, "With
the apparent suicide of Tom Tomich in Omaha this morning, I can confirm
he was the only person of interest."
Lois Tomich had been missing since November of 1983.
At the time, Pottawattamie County authorities suspected foul play and
had a suspicion about Thomas Tomich.
Dave Richter was Pottawattamie County attorney in
1983 and he says he felt that Tomich was responsible for Lois'
disappearance and probable death but says without a body prosecuting the
case would have been almost impossible.
He says, "Not only that, we didn't have the barrel.
So without any of that it would have been virtually impossible with just
the suspicious rumors going on at the time."
Authorities say several times over the years Tom
Tomich allegedly admitted to others that he'd killed his ex-wife and
stuffed her in a barrel. It's something Richter always believed and when
a barrel with a woman's body inside of it turned up in a field Richter
says he knew immediately.
"I called the county attorney's office seven months
ago and told them who was in the barrel," he says.
Richter says that as county attorney he does not
recall bringing any charges against Tom Tomich for any significant crime.
He says he remembers Tomich as a very intelligent man
with a penchant for fancy clothing and expensive cars but he doesn't
remember Tomich having a high-paying job.
According to information about the case released on
Thursday, Thomas and Lois Tomich had been married for a short time but
had a stormy relationship. Authorities knew of a history of domestic
After their divorce, Lois Tomich entered into a
relationship with Tom's brother and authorities say that sent Tom Tomich
into a rage.
They described how the barrel in which Lois Tomich's
skeleton was found was filled with concrete and weighed at least 800
pounds but they say they have no reason to believe Thomas Tomich had an
accomplice. He worked for a paving company and would have had access to
We also learned that Lois Tomich had been strangled.
A wire coat hanger was found around her neck.
While authorities say that the suicide of Thomas
Tomich on Thursday morning closed the books on the case of Lois Tomich,
the man who killed himself is still under the microscope.
There is at least one confirmed link to yet another
missing person in the case of Tom Tomich.
Debra Ann Barajas of Omaha disappeared last May and
she remains missing.
Family and friends launched a search for Barajas
earlier this year but found nothing.
Checking court records Channel 6 News found a bail
bond slip from the last time that Barajas was arrested. The signature
was that of Tom Tomich.
Barajas was arrested in May for possession of a
Body In Barrel Belongs To Woman Who Disappeared In
November 15, 2006
Pottawattamie County investigators said a body found earlier this year
in a barrel solves a 23-year-old mystery.
from an FBI lab showed that the remains were those of 28-year-old Lois
Tomich, of Council Bluffs. Tomich was reported missing in November 1983
by her father.
Mushroom hunters found the remains in a
55-gallon barrel north of Council Bluffs near the Pottawattamie County
Jail in May.
Tomich was divorced and the mother of one
daughter who is now 28 years old, authorities said. Investigators said
they took DNA from the daughter to use in a new type of analysis called
mitochondrial DNA testing. The test was done in a crime lab in Minnesota.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said this is one of the first
times the lab has used this particular test."Any information we can get
now -- this case is 23 years old. All we have is what was found out
there, so, yes. This case is going to be tough," Danker said. "We not
have not been able to find the Council Bluffs police report. It's been
23 years ago, so we don't have specific details as far as specifically
the date, and the details as far as what exactly, where she was last
seen, who she was last seen by."It's not clear how long Tomich had been
in the barrel, Danker said.
Investigators are not
saying how Tomich died, but said they are confident she was murdered.
Danker said some names have been mentioned about who may be responsible
for Tomich's death and investigators are checking out all leads.Anyone
with information about Tomich or the case is asked to call a tip line at
877-414-1031 or 402-616-5065.
Tomich's family still
lives in the Omaha metro area. Danker said his investigators spoke with
them on Wednesday morning, and said that this is an emotional time for
them. Investigators said they explained their findings to the family and
Investigators said contact was
made with both the Tomich family, into which Lois married, and her
family, the Fraissinets."It's just tough," Denker said. "When you have a
loved one that -- I mean, I'm sure there's closure, but it's final now.
Their loved one has been determined that they are deceased."Attempts to
reach the Tomich family by KETV NewsWatch 7 were unsuccessful. The
Fraissinets were located at their home near Glenwood, and a reporter was
told to leave the property.
Pottawattamie County Works To Identify Body In
May 15, 2006
phone calls have poured into Pottawattamie County authorities since the
discovery of a body was found in a barrel was announced on Friday.
Mushroom hunters found the remains of a woman believed to have been
murdered and sealed in a barrel years ago in Council Bluffs.
Pottawattamie County officials said on Friday that the body was
discovered Saturday, and tests were performed this week to learn more
about the victim.
The woman was approximately 24 to 32
years old and about 5 feet 8 inches tall. She is believed to be
Caucasian, but could have black ancestry. She had straight brown hair.
Wilber said the remains are not those of Tracy Tribble, who is missing
and was last seen in her Council Bluffs home on May 3. They are also not
the remains of missing Omaha 12-year-old Amber Harris. Wilber said the
physical description also does not match that of missing Iowa
anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.
Many of the phone calls
taken by authorities over the weekend came from the families of missing
persons."A family loses a loved one, they never give up hope they never
give up looking, if for no other reason than to get closure," said
Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber. "Right now, we're trying to
sift through the leads and figuring out which ones are potential good
leads and which ones are hopeful."
Wilber said the
county wants a dental expert to take a look at the victim's teeth, and
professionals will also try to reconstruct the woman's face to try to
make identifying her easier."Our No. 1 priority is identifying our
victim," Wilber said. "I know every time a family even hears a whisper
of a story like this it puts a sick feeling in their stomach, because
they're wondering could this be it."Wilber said one of the biggest
difficulties authorities are having in narrowing the list of possible
victims in this case. They're not sure exactly how long the remains have
been sitting in the barrel."Our anthropologist couldn't give us a narrow
range of times. We've got a lot of potential missing people our victim
could be," Wilber said.
Wilber said he's confident
investigators will be able to identify the woman."If we make an ID, if
nothing else, even if we can't prosecute the case, we can give one
family some closure," Wilber said.
Remains Found In Barrel Near Council Bluffs
May 12, 2006
hunters found the remains of a woman believed to be murdered and sealed
in a barrel years ago in Council Bluffs. Pottawattamie County officials
said on Friday that the body was discovered Saturday, and tests were
performed this week to learn more about the victim. "It's clear to us
what we're dealing with is a homicide," said Pottawattamie County
Attorney Matt Wilber.
A woman's skeletal remains were
found north of Council Bluffs near the Pottawattamie County Jail. Some
areas nearby are covered in water, while others have dried up. Wilber
said it was in one of dry areas that mushroom hunters found the 55-gallon
barrel with the remains inside.
"Our belief is that it
was put there because it was at least, at that time, under water,"
Wilber said. Investigators wouldn't say how the woman died. They said she
was inside the barrel for years, but aren't sure exactly how long. "We've
got a window of time from five years to 25 years. We've got a lot to
sift through," Wilber said. "We really have two separate investigations
going on. Obviously, we want to identify the body. Then, of course, we
have a homicide we are dealing with.
were able to recover a size 11 Lee Jeans tag from the victim's clothes.
They're hoping manufacturers can give them a production date that could
narrow down their search. Wilbur said the victim has extensive dental
work, and he hopes a dental expert that could be very helpful in
The woman was approximately 24 to 32
years old and about 5 feet 8 inches tall. She is believed to be
Caucasian, but could have black ancestry. She had straight brown
hair. Wilber said the remains are not those of Tracy Tribble, who is
missing and was last seen in her Council Bluffs home on May 3. They are
also not the remains of missing Omaha 12-year-old Amber Harris. Wilber
said the physical description also does not match that of missing Iowa
anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.