©Copyright 2012, The Oklahoman
An Edmond insurance agent denies having anything to do with the fatal beating of a gambler’s wife, even though his company checkbook was found at her home after she was killed there.
“I — 100 percent — did not,” Michael Wayne Thomas said. “That’s for sure.”
Thomas specifically denied being at the home during the attack. One of the gambler’s attorneys has alleged Thomas was there “before or during her murder.”
“I was not there at the time,” Thomas told The Oklahoman in a telephone interview. “A million percent sure.”
Police detectives this year have been focusing on Thomas in their investigation into the brutal killing of Julie Mitchell at her home in northwest Oklahoma City the evening of Nov. 2, 2010.
The victim was the wife of Teddy Mitchell, who is — according to his attorneys — a legitimate, professional gambler. The FBI and a federal grand jury are investigating whether Teddy Mitchell also ran an illegal gambling operation from his home.
Sources told The Oklahoman that Thomas’ company checkbook was found inside the Mitchells’ home after the killing.
Other sources told The Oklahoman that Thomas has a partial explanation for why the checkbook was there. Thomas claims he brought the checkbook to the house that day and left it on the porch when no one came to the door, the sources said.
Thomas, 41, and Teddy Mitchell, 57, have had business dealings together in the past.
Thomas would not discuss the checkbook during his brief interview with The Oklahoman. Asked if he talked to police about the checkbook, he said, “I have told the necessary people everything I know, and that’s all I really can say about it.”
Thomas said he is cooperating with police.
“Absolutely, but I’m not allowed to comment to anybody else, you know, except through my attorney. I’ve been trying to cooperate with pretty much everybody, sir,” Thomas said.
He would not say, though, if that included the FBI.
During the investigation this year, police searched Thomas’ Edmond home and Edmond insurance office and seized computers. Police also collected a DNA sample from him and talked to an ex-wife. Last year, his daughter, then 18, testified before the state grand jury that is helping in the investigation.
“They’re trying to do their job and they’re trying to solve a crime. I respect everybody’s position in that,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ attorney, Ed Blau, said last week, “As we stated previously, we’re not going to comment because it’s an ongoing investigation.”
Julie Mitchell’s body was found in the closet of the master bedroom of the house, valued at the time at $359,000.
About $30,000 was missing from a safe in that closet, Teddy Mitchell’s attorneys have said.
Julie Mitchell was 34. The Mitchells’ daughter, then 1, was found unharmed in a pool of blood next to the body.
Teddy Mitchell was traveling by plane out of state at the time of his wife’s attack, his attorneys have said.
The Oklahoman first learned in April that a clue linked Thomas to the crime scene.
“Before or during her murder, he was there,” Teddy Mitchell’s attorney, Scott Adams, said in April. “I’m totally 100 percent convinced of that. Some things ... were left at the house ... . There’s something that wasn’t there when Teddy left.”
The attorney refused in April to reveal what the evidence was.
Adams declined to comment further last week. He said he did not want to jeopardize the investigation. “It’s too sensitive,” Adams said.
After his wife’s death, Teddy Mitchell sued Thomas over an alleged $20,000 debt. The Oklahoma County lawsuit claims Thomas asked to borrow the money in November 2010 and was supposed to have paid the money back within weeks.
Thomas has denied he owes the money.
Thomas filed a bankruptcy petition last November, listing almost $330,000 in liabilities. He asked a bankruptcy judge to allow him to make monthly payments over five years to take care of his debts.
He also wanted the judge to rule he didn’t owe Teddy Mitchell.
The bankruptcy judge in April rejected his payment plan and dismissed the bankruptcy case.
The lawsuit against Thomas over the alleged $20,000 debt is still pending.
Thomas last year refused to testify before the state grand jury. His attorney at the time said then that Thomas did not want to incriminate himself in any of Teddy Mitchell’s gambling activities.
Thomas’ ex-wife, Shannon Elder, of Edmond, has said Thomas regularly went to Teddy Mitchell’s house to play poker.