After Helen Wilson was murdered in February 1985, the case went cold before being picked up years later. The investigator looking into it eventually rounded up six suspects, with Thomas Winslow being one of them. HBO’s ‘Mind Over Murder’ is a fascinating docuseries that looks into how the Beatrice Six, as they were called, were interrogated to the point where most of them admitted to being involved in the murder. However, DNA testing decades later revealed they were innocent. So, if you’re wondering how Thomas came into the picture and what happened to him since then, here’s what we know.
Who is Thomas Winslow?
When Thomas Winslow came to the authorities’ attention in 1989, he was 23-years-old and was previously diagnosed with depression. The diagnosis had come from the same doctor who treated Ada JoAnn Taylor, one of the first to be arrested. During Ada’s interviews, she mentioned there was “another boy” involved in Helen’s murder. However, her description of this person varied. Ada eventually picked out Thomas’ photograph from a lineup; he was her high school classmate.
Lisa Podendorf had told deputy sheriff Burdette Searcey about Ada’s confession, paving the way for Ada’s arrest. Furthermore, she mentioned seeing Thomas with Ada, Joseph White, and another person in a car near Helen’s apartment on that fateful morning. When Thomas was questioned in 1985, he claimed to have been at work around the time of the crime. But later on, Burdette determined that wasn’t true.
In February 1989, Thomas was questioned again while in jail for an unrelated assault charge. During this time, he admitted to lying about where he was and said he loaned his car to Ada, Joseph, and another person named Cliff Shelden. Then, the following month, Burdette told Thomas he would talk to the judge about releasing him on a non-cash bond for the assault. In his statement, Thomas first mentioned driving around with Ada and Joseph on February 5, 1985, when he heard them talk about robbing an old woman. He then claimed they dropped him off and returned the car the following morning.
Later, when Burdette mentioned that a witness saw Thomas near the crime scene with the others, he changed his story. Thomas said he lied because he didn’t want to be connected to the murder. Then, after a roughly 44-minute break in the interview, Thomas claimed he went to the apartment with the others and left when Ada and Joseph attacked Helen. Years later, he said regarding Burdette, “He would move his papers and slap them down on the table when he disapproved. And when he approved, he would move them closer to him. And he would smile and gesture.”
Where is Thomas Winslow Today?
Thomas also said he was pressured into going to that apartment, something that was a pattern in his life. He added, “I have to make friends, or I’ll get insecure. I’ll get scared, because I feel like I can’t make any friends, so I’ll do anything.” Furthermore, Thomas’ blood type didn’t match the evidence found at the crime scene. Despite providing conflicting statements and then saying he wasn’t a part of the murder, he pled no contest to aiding and abetting second-degree murder. As a result, Thomas was sentenced to 50 years behind bars; he took the plea deal because he feared getting the death penalty if convicted.
While in prison, Thomas was sexually assaulted several times and was hesitant to get DNA testing done a few years later. According to his lawyer, “He had kind of accepted his fate. He felt that maybe the government was right, and he had done something horrible.” Eventually, DNA testing results in 2008 showed that Thomas and the rest weren’t responsible for the murder. Therefore, in October of that year, Thomas was resentenced to time served and released from prison after more than 18 years behind bars; his conviction was vacated.
In 2011, Thomas was awarded $180,000 as a settlement for the wrongful conviction and $7.3 million as part of a civil suit a few years later. Regarding that lawsuit, he said, “Part of the reason we pushed through the emotions was because of Joe White. He gives us the extra strength. He was stronger than us all the way around.” Since then, Thomas has understandably stayed away from public attention and was last reported to be residing in Oklahoma. Before that, he worked in Omaha, Nebraska.
Read More: Where is Beatrice Six’s Debra Shelden Now?