|Thomas Eugene CreechCharged with double homicide in Ada County, Idaho, in 1975, Tom Creech astounded his jailers by confessing to 42 murders, allegedly committed over thirteen states since 1967.
In his statement, Creech alleged that many of the homicides were sacrifices ordered by a cult of Satanists; a biker gang reportedly commissioned others, sometimes paying Creech upon completion of a “contract.” Several jurisdictions airily dismissed the tales as fantasy, while others claimed that bodies had been found by following the prisoner’s directions.
By October 1975, Creech was reliably linked with at least nine murders, including two in Idaho, two in Oregon, two in Nevada, and one each in the states of Arizona, California and Wyoming. Ironically, for all of his confessions, Creech denied the double murder which had led to his arrest in Idaho. Itinerant housepainters John Bradford and John Arnold were shot to death in Ada County after giving Creech a ride, but Creech professed that he had merely been a witness to the crime.
His traveling companion, 18-year-old Carole Spaulding, had been charged as an accessory to murder in the case, but Creech named Spaulding’s teenaged sister — with a missing youth named “Danny” — as the killers.
Members of his jury were unimpressed, and Creech was convicted on two counts of first degree murder on October 23, 1975. State law made the death penalty automatic, and he was formally sentenced to hang on March 25, 1976. Investigation of Creech’s confessions, meanwhile, listed his verified victims as Gordon Stanton and Charles Miller, killed near Las Vegas; Sandra Ramsamoog, 19, of Salem, Oregon; William Dean, in Portland, Oregon; Riogley McKenzie, murdered outside Baggs, Wyoming; Vivian Robinson, of Sacramento, California; and Paul Schrader, age 70, in Tucson, Arizona.
Creech gave directions to alleged Satanic ritual sites near San Diego, Seattle, and Missoula, Montana, but authorities describe the solid evidence as negative in each case. As with Henry Lucas a decade later, many of Creech’s confessions remain impossible to verify or disprove.
Prisoner Kills Fellow Inmate
Fourteen Years Later, His Appeals Still Thrive
June 6, 1995
In 1975, Thomas Eugene Creech was convicted of first degree murder in the deaths of Edward T. Arnold and John W. Bradford and was sentenced to death.
Four years later, on the basis of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U.S. 280 (1976), the Idaho Supreme Court held that the statute under which Creech had been sentenced was unconstitutional because it provided for a mandatory death penalty. Creech’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Thomas Creech is a serial killer. He has admitted to killing or participating in the killing of at least 26 people. The bodies of 11 of his victims — who were shot, stabbed, beaten, or strangled to death — have been recovered in seven states.
In 1981, while serving his life sentence in prison, Creech killed again. Creech was an inmate of the Idaho State Correctional Institution. The victim, Dale Jensen, had been convicted of car theft and was in the same institution.
Some years earlier, Jensen had been shot in the head which had necessitated the removal of part of his brain and the placement of a plastic plate in his skull. His speech and motor functions were somewhat impaired.
Both Creech and Jensen were housed in maximum security where ordinarily only one inmate at a time was allowed out of his cell. Creech, however, had been made a janitor, and while performing his cleaning duties he was allowed to be out of his cell while another inmate also was out.
Creech and Jensen were not on good terms. They had argued over television and over Jensen’s littering, which Creech, as a janitor, particularly resented.
The circumstances surrounding Jensen’s death are unclear because Creech has given different accounts. It appears that on the day of the murder, Jensen approached Creech and swung a weapon at him. The weapon consisted of a sock containing batteries.
Creech took the weapon away from Jensen, who returned to his cell but emerged with a razor blade taped to a toothbrush. Jensen made some movement toward Creech, who then struck Jensen between the eyes with the battery laden sock, knocking Jensen to the floor.
According to Creech’s version (he being the only witness), Jensen swung at him with the razorblade, and he hit Jensen with the battery-filled sock. The plate in Jensen’s skull was shattered, and blood from Jensen’s skull splashed on the floor and walls. When Jensen was helpless, Creech kicked him about the throat and head. Sometime later, a guard found Jensen who was taken to the hospital where he died the same day.
Over the objections of his counsel, Creech pleaded guilty to first degree murder. At the sentencing hearing, testimony was offered by both the state and the defense on Creech’s mental condition. The district court did not expressly rule on Creech’s sanity, but he did rule that Creech was of adequate intelligence and capable of being trained and educated.
After the sentencing hearing, the judge found (as a mitigating factor) that Creech “did not instigate the fight with the victim” and that Creech “was initially justified in protecting himself.”
However, the judge also found (as aggravating factors) that, “[the victim, once the attack commenced, was under the complete domination and control of the defendant” and that “[the murder itself was extremely gruesome evidencing an excessive violent rage.” The violence “went well beyond self-defense” and “appears to have been an intentional, calculated act.”
The judge sentenced Creech to death, saying he “intentionally destroyed another human being at a time when he was completely helpless. “After a couple of appeals and petitions in the Idaho courts and an unsuccessful petition to the United States Supreme Court, in 1985 Creech filed a habeas petition with the federal district court.
The court denied the petition. Creech went to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and in 1991 the Court of Appeals held part of the Idaho death penalty statute unconstitutional. The court also found two other defects in the original sentencing. In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and upheld the Idaho statute but did not consider the other aspects of the 9th Circuit’s holding. The case was returned to the Idaho courts .
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