Homicide investigation focuses on Edmond insurance agent

The Oklahoma City police detectives investigating the brutal beating death of a gambler's wife have focused on an Edmond man, insurance agent Michael W. Thomas.
by Nolan Clay and Robby Trammell Published: April 21, 2012
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© Copyright 2012, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City police detectives investigating the savage beating death of a wealthy gambler's wife are focusing on an Edmond insurance agent in a dispute with the gambler over money.

Police have searched Michael Wayne Thomas' home and insurance office seizing computers, The Oklahoman learned. They also collected a DNA sample from him and talked to his ex-wife, who fears him and once had a protective order against him.

The ex-wife, Shannon Elder, 39, said Thomas claims to be psychic and has described to her having a dream where the victim told him, “Mike, help me!”

Thomas, 40, denies involvement in the killing. The victim, Julie Mitchell, 34, was attacked the evening of Nov. 2, 2010, inside her husband's $359,000 house in northwest Oklahoma City.

The victim's husband, Teddy Mitchell, claims there is evidence Thomas was there, attorney Scott Adams said.

“Before or during her murder, he was there. I'm totally 100 percent convinced of that,” said Adams, who is representing Teddy Mitchell. “Some things ... were left at the house ... There's something that wasn't there when Teddy left.”

The attorney wouldn't be more specific. “I don't want to jeopardize the investigation, guys,” Adams said.

Teddy Mitchell was traveling by plane out of state at the time of his wife's attack, his attorneys have said. One of his sons found her body in the master bedroom closet. The couple's daughter, London, was in a pool of blood next to the body. The girl, then 1, was not harmed. About $30,000 was missing from a closet safe, Mitchell's attorneys have said.

Thomas and Teddy Mitchell were acquaintances. Police have said Teddy Mitchell, now 57, ran a bookmaking operation at his home where gamblers placed bets on sporting events. The FBI and a federal grand jury are investigating the gambling allegations.

After his wife's death, Teddy Mitchell sued Thomas over an alleged $20,000 debt. Thomas later filed a bankruptcy petition. He denies owing the money.

Authorities want to know whether Thomas wrote anonymous letters about the case that were sent to Oklahoma City television stations days after the death and again months later. TV stations turned the letters over to police and did not publicize their contents.

Thomas' ex-wife said he told her after the first notes appeared not to be surprised if other letters came out. She added, “And, they did.”

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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by Robby Trammell
Assistant Managing Editor
Robby Trammell is news director for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. During his 41-year career, he has received numerous reporting awards and civic honors. With The Oklahoman’s investigative team, he won a first-place spot news reporting award for...
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