Philip Arthur Thompson: The Career Criminal Reportedly Died in 2020

If there’s one thing absolutely nobody can deny, it’s that the January 1992 homicide of Paul Morasca inside his San Francisco home can only be described as equal parts haunting and shocking. That’s because, as briefly explored in Netflix’s ‘American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders,’ he’d died from asphyxiation after having been left hogtied until he simply couldn’t hold his feet up anymore. And the alleged male behind this brutal, tortuous killing was none other than Philip Arthur Thompson, who seemingly did get away with it for good.

Who Was Philip Arthur Thompson?

It was reportedly back on August 5, 1945, that Philip was born in Northern California to a homemaker mother and policeman father, just to primarily be raised by the former following their divorce. He then seemingly had a relatively ordinary upbringing despite having chosen to remain no-contact with the latter, unaware it would soon somehow lead him to evolve into a violent career criminal. We assert this because his first offense dates all the way back to at least 1967 when he was 21/22, following which his rap sheet only saw new, increasingly heinous charges almost every few years.

Michael Riconoseiuto

According to records, these include counts of both attempted and capital murders, kidnappings, rapes, plus robberies, yet he never once spent too long behind bars owing to his connections. It turns out Philip had actually managed to slither his way into becoming a crucial FBI informant by the 1970s — given the name Jason Smith — so a lot of his infractions were dismissed owing to the sheer magnitude of important details he provided government officials. In fact, by the late 80s, he was working at Cabazon Arms in a reservation to manufacture/test military weapons, all the while investigating Michael Riconoseiuto plus Paul Morasca for drugs.

Moreover, per the original docuseries, there was a time when Philip apparently served the CIA as a hitman too, enabling him to have confidence in the opinion he’d remain a free man no matter what. That’s arguably why he agreed to slay Paul too — this docuseries suggests those at Cabazon Arms hired him to do so because it would give them access to the former’s ample drug money and help them not only keep their operations active but also expand the same. Michael Riconoseiuto later even came forward to claim the former had allegedly confessed to him, describing how he’d tortured this San Francisco native for 10 days before leaving him hogtied.

However, Paul’s slaying remains unsolved to this day owing to the simple fact local officials could not uncover any evidence against Philip and he still had the CIA as well as the FBI’s backing. We should thus mention he has also been accused of Ronald Winter’s 1975 killing, Valerie McDonald’s 1980 homicide, the 1980 UC Davis sweetheart murders, plus Arthur Suel’s 1981 robbery over the years, only for most of them to yield absolutely no result too. Yet everything turned upside down a few years down the line as this exceptionally violent individual was finally arrested, tried, and convicted for the 1971 killing of fellow drug informant Betty Cloer.

How Did Philip Arthur Thompson Die?

It was DNA evidence that helped Betty’s cold case be brought to a close in the early 2000s, resulting in Philip — once even suspected of being the infamous Zodiac killer — soon being sentenced to life in prison without parole. He subsequently did appeal on the grounds of evidentiary and instructional errors, delay in prosecution amounting to a denial of due process, plus improperly assessed fines, but the Third District California Court of Appeals affirmed all verdicts except two monetary penalties. Philip thus remained incarcerated behind California state bars, that is, until December 2020 when he passed away at the age of 75 — his cause or manner of death has never been made public, making us believe it was natural.

Read More: How Did Robert Booth Nichols Die?