U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive in Grisly Massachusetts
Caught in Jamaica
“The victim -- a beloved social worker –
inspired an international manhunt to find her killer,” says U.S.
Deputy Marshal Mike Nelson in Springfield, Massachusetts. “Terri
Thomas was a popular figure in this town and the mother of three,”
says Nelson, “Her murderer broke into the Thomas home in 1996, and
stabbed her to death in front of those terrified little boys.
“In 1997, a local school was named in
her honor,” said Nelson, “and as of today, her alleged killer is in
Ms. Thomas’ former boyfriend, Antonio
George James, 37, was arrested for the murder at 11:50 this morning
in his hometown, Kingston, Jamaica. He is a fugitive on the U.S.
Marshals international 15 Most Wanted list. In addition to unlawful
flight to avoid prosecution for the killing, Mr. James had a long
history of domestic abuse charges, and was wanted for distribution
of a controlled substance, and for an “assault and battery with a
dangerous weapon” charge. Deputy Marshals working out of the
agency’s Foreign Field Office in Kingston, said James was arrested
without incident by the Jamaican Constabulary Force.
The Washington Times and other national
media focused on the case because of the victim’s popularity in
Springfield, and because of the grisly details surrounding her
murder. Prior to the killing, James’ abusive treatment of the
victim had led to a restraining order against him. Police responded
to a 911 call on the day of her death and ordered James to leave the
premises. But later that night, an assailant entered Thomas’
bedroom through a second story window, stabbed her in the chest,
then told her very young children to remain in her bed while she
bled to death.
Deputy Nelson says that since the
Marshals began working the case last September, he discovered that
James had a history of domestic abuse, as well as other families in
Springfield, New York City, Jamaica, and London, England. “He fled
to a wife and a girlfriend in the Bronx’s Jamaican community, after
the killing,” said Nelson, “then to Kingston and later to London and
back.” Marshals’ spokespersons in Kingston said he was living with a common law wife there
when he was arrested.
The victim was a noted youth probation
officer in Western Massachusetts, and hoped to become a magistrate
judge in the future. Deputy Nelson, a nine-year veteran with the
Marshals, said, “I feel great about the capture, because Terri
Thomas’ children, her mother and her friends have worked so closely
with us since the warrant was turned over to U.S. Marshals last
September. This arrest caps more than a year of cooperation
between our Deputies, Springfield police, Massachusetts State
Police, our Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Newhouse, Interpol, New
York City Police, and a number of concerned Jamaicans who live in
Springfield and in New York City.”
In Kingston, the U.S. Marshals Jamaican
Foreign Field Office routinely works closely with the Fugitive
Apprehension Team of the Jamaican Constabulary Force. In addition
to operating its Field Office there, the U.S. Marshals provide
ongoing fugitive tracking and apprehension training for officers on
the highly regarded Jamaican fugitive apprehension unit.
James will face extradition proceedings
in a Kingston courtroom tomorrow.