MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The nine-time convicted rapist and killer behind the “Honeywell Ramp Murder” will remain in prison for another five years.
David Anthony Thomas’ parole hearing was supposed to be held on Monday, but according the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Thomas’ hearing has been rescheduled for a date five years from now, effectively denying him parole.
In 1981, Thomas was convicted of rape and kidnapping two women. He was paroled after two years.
In 1987, he was convicted of auto theft and was paroled after seven months. He was released on May 17, 1988.
Exactly 26 days later, Thomas raped and murdered Mary Foley, a manager at Honeywell in Minneapolis.
Thomas would later reveal to investigators that Foley screamed and screamed for help in the Honeywell parking ramp where he attacked her.
Liz Petschel grew up with Foley and has been a family spokesperson for 24 years.
“He beat her and strangled her so unmercifully she was unrecognizable,” Petschel said. “I think of her going through that alone frightened. I can’t bear it, I just can’t.”
Within days of her killing, police arrested Thomas. The horror over Foley’s death turned to outrage that he was on the streets.
Thomas was set free during that time because in 1988, a sentence for rape was less than four years. Foley’s murder changed that. Within a year, legislators doubled the penalty for rape and sharply increased the sentence for first-degree murder. But the tough, new sentences came too late for Foley’s killer.
In the fall of 1988, Thomas was sentenced to life in prison. Back then, life meant serving a minimum of 17 years.
“He was sentenced under the old guidelines. So, what do you do?” Petschel said.
And there are other victims. In the 26 days he was out, Thomas raped or tried to rape seven other women. He was convicted in all those cases as well.
In a letter to the Parole Advisory Board, Foley’s sister, Barbara, wrote, “My hearts go out to the other women who David Thomas raped. Please, please, please hear our cry to have this man imprisoned for his entire life.”
Because of those additional rape charges, corrections officials say if Thomas is paroled, he would be ordered to serve 13 additional years for the rapes.
But Foley’s family is not taking chances and has started a letter writing campaign demanding that Thomas, who is now 50, remain behind bars.
“I am dumbfounded,” Petschel said. “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this man is somehow up for parole.”
There are 149 other inmates in Minnesota prisons who were punished under the old sentencing guidelines.
Thomas has had 30 disciplinary violations in prison and is currently in a segregation unit.
Thomas was also civilly committed as a psychopathic sexual predator.
It is possible that if his sentences were ever completed, he could be sent to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, Minn.
Thomas’ next parole hearing will be in 2017.