One of the most puzzling questions in modern American true crime remains the same: Who Killed Tom Koleman? NBC’s ‘Dateline’ and CBS’s ’48 Hours’ have both tried to crack this mysterious murder case, which, for several years, appeared to have just one obvious suspect. But, as time has gone on, things have changed and evidence has been found, which has, unfortunately, left everyone with more questions than answers.
How Was Tom Kolman Killed?
Tom Kolman was a 44-year-old administrator and physical therapist in Saugerties, New York, about two hours north of the main city. Having been in that area for around 20 years, he was living a seemingly idyllic life – he had a good, stable job, a loving wife, Linda, and had raised four children there: Bradley Kolman, Jillian Kolman, Ryan Kolman, and Brooke Hines. However, that perfect image and family life all came into question in late 2011.
On the evening of November 29, 2011, in the Kingston Planet Fitness parking lot in Ulster County, New York, Tom was found dead in the driver’s seat of his car. After Linda had learned he didn’t show up for work that day, she went out searching, and since she knew that he went to train there most mornings, that’s one of the first places she visited. And, it’s also where, Gilberto Nunez, a dentist, and Tom’s closest friend went. Linda had reached first, and she was the one to find Tom’s body.
The detective who came to the scene after Linda called 911 recalls that even though Tom was in the front seat, he was laying almost flat, as if he was asleep. His body was unbruised, the car wasn’t trashed, and there seemed to be no other evidence of foul play, but, the fact that it wasn’t parked near the building irked everyone. When the autopsy was performed, it was revealed that there were traces of midazolam in his system, a dental sedative that, when taken in a high dosage, could be fatal.
The forensic pathologist of the case revealed that initially, he believed that Tom had passed away from his slightly enlarged heart and that his sleep apnea had played a role as well – heart attack. But, he changed his mind when the toxicology report came back and showed the midazolam in his blood.
Who Killed Tom Kolman?
The main suspect for the murder of Tom Kolman was, of course, none other than his best friend, the renowned dental hygienist and volunteer firefighter, Gilberto Nunez. Gilberto and Linda had been having an affair for almost a year, and even when Tom found out, he sort of let it continue. According to Gilberto, he was the one who indirectly let Tom know about it because of the guilt, and after some initial friction, the three of them became closer than ever and their individual relationships kept on getting stronger.
Linda was a suspect too, but after she took a polygraph test, she was cleared. However, Gilberto was not. He had repeatedly denied the use of the particular drug in his practice but when the police couldn’t find any other leads and had surveillance footage of Gilberto’s car near the scene of the crime at the estimated time of death, they questioned him to keep him distracted and searched his home and office. There, they found the drug and caught his lie. But, it ended up raising more questions as there were no fingerprints on the vials, just like on Tom’s car, there was no DNA evidence that could connect Gilberto to the murder.
The police still believed that he had brutally killed his friend in the hopes that his wife could completely be his, and had formed an elaborate plan, involving CIA documents and Tom’s position at the time of his death, to make it look like he, too, was having an affair. So, they charged him with second-degree murder in late 2015. The truth was, although by that time Linda and Gilberto had parted ways, in 2011 their love affair was one that made it seem like they were two teenagers in love rather than middle-aged people with families. The constant texts, the letters, the flirting, it was all there.
Another fact that made Gilberto look guilty was the deleted text messages between him and Tom. There was not a single text on his phone from November 27 to November 29, and there was no way to recover them either. At the end, when the case went to court, Gilberto was found not guilty of the murder charge against him. The evidence did seem damning, but it was all circumstantial, none of it could be proved and so, he was acquitted. With that, the murder of Tom Kolman remains unsolved. (Featured Image Credit: CBS News)
Read More: Where Is Gilberto Nunez Now?