Investigation Discovery’s ‘Fear Thy Neighbor: Blizzard of Blood’ chronicles the brutal murder of Derrick Thompson and her girlfriend, Alivia Welch, in their rented apartment in Biddeford, Maine, in December 2012. The investigators were able to catch the perpetrator within hours of the killing. If you’re intrigued and wish to learn the identity and current whereabouts of the murderer, we’ve you covered. Let’s dive in then, shall we?
How Did Derrick Thompson and Alivia Welch Die?
Derrick M. Thompson was born on February 12, 1993, in Portland, Oregon, to Susan Johnson and Richard Thompson. He graduated from Biddeford High School in 2011. According to his family, he was an outgoing and fun-loving individual who loved customizing his truck, drag racing with his grandfather, camping and playing video games with his siblings. He was employed by Stoneage Granite Countertops in Biddeford, Maine, and as an auto detailer for Patriot Subaru in Saco.
His girlfriend, Alivia Collette “Peanut” Welch, was born on July 13, 1994, in Biddeford, Maine, to Danny W. and Jocelyne (Lamontagne) Welch. After completing her studies at St. James School, she graduated from Thorton Academy in 2012. Her father called her the perfect daughter who enjoyed shopping and outdoor activities such as snowboarding and boating. She worked at Aroma Joe’s in Biddeford and dreamt of being a nurse.
Hence it came as a shock when Susan called 911 on December 29, 2012, to report that her son and his girlfriend were shot dead. Emergency respondents arrived at the scene to find the teen couple already dead and a wounded Susan. She was shot in the back and was rushed to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she survived. Police reports stated that the young couple was shot dead with a .357 Magnum handgun.
Who Killed Derrick Thompson and Alivia Welch?
The investigators did not have to look for the killer as James Pak surrendered to the police about three hours after shooting the teens to death. A longtime Vermont resident, James moved to Biddeford in around 2007 to start the Korean Yankee Landscape company. He and his wife, Armit Pak, had Susan and her two sons, Derrick, 19, and Brayden, then 6, as their tenants. The landlords and the tenants lived in adjacent apartments with almost side-by-side doors and a shared driveway.
As per police reports, trouble started brewing between James and Derrick when Alivia moved in to stay with the Thompsons. James allegedly was short-tempered and often had altercations with his tenants and neighbors over trivial issues. Court documents state how Armit often came to the tenants to apologize for her husband’s behavior after James had some sort of argument with them. Susan alleged that James had even tried to barge his way into the Thompson apartment following a confrontation with Derrick.
On December 29, 2012, James and Derrick had an altercation regarding the parking spot of the former’s vehicle and the way the teen shoveled the snow on the driveway. James yelled and made obscene gestures toward them, threatening to hit Derrick. He had even allegedly pointed his fingers in the shape of a gun and threatened to bury Derrick in the snow. The latter called the police and complained about James threatening and abusing him and his family.
Police officers showed up at the scene, and Susan showed them recordings of threats and lewd behavior of James. The officers talked with both parties, asking them to calm down and settle the disputes in civil courts. As per court documents, James was frustrated with his tenants and was in the process of evicting them. He had made further threats, yelling that “he had nothing to lose” and they were “going to see [him] in the newspaper.” He even said, “It’s going to be a bloody mess,” as the officers left the scene.
Moments after the officers were gone, James took his loaded handgun and went to the Thompsons’ apartment. He barged in and shouted, “I am going to shoot you all,” before shooting Susan first and then Derrick and Alivia. Susan’s 6-year-old son, Brayden, hid in the back bedroom at the time. While the teen couple died, Susan, then 47, survived by pretending to be dead as she lay under their Christmas tree. James was arrested for first-degree murder and attempted murder hours after the shooting after he surrendered.
Where Is James Pak Today?
James pleaded not guilty to the charges in March 2013 but changed his plea to not guilty because of insanity in August 2014. He was found to be mentally competent to stand for trial in November 2015 after going through two psychological evaluations. However, the judge observed that James did “have significant cognitive deficits and difficulties with English and memory.”
The case never went to trial as James pleaded guilty to all charges in February 2016, citing that he did not want his wife, relatives, and the families of the victims to go through the ordeals of a trial. His defense counsel stated that his client considered self-defense a viable alternative but did not proceed. He was sentenced to two life sentences, one for each victim and 30 years more for the attempt to murder Susan. All the sentences will run consecutively as per court documents.
The families of the victims also sued Biddeford police on grounds of incompetency, but the lawsuit was dismissed in April 2020. As per official court records, James, 84, is incarcerated in a prison cell at the Mountain View Correctional Facility.