Sadly, this is yet another case where police tunnel vision resulted in false justice. Even though evidence did not support his guilt, police were determined to build a case against David Thorne. David Thorne was tried and convicted of complicity to commit murder/murder for hire and sentenced to life without parole 13 years ago.
The victim: Yvonne Lane, age 26 and a mother of 5 children was found dead in her home on April 1, 1999. Police immediately considered her boyfriend a suspect, but soon learned that he was in prison. They then considered David Thorne because he had once dated Yvonne and it was known that he was the father of her 4th child and had regular contact with Yvonne as part of his visitation with his son. When it was first suggested to David that he may possibly be the father, he arranged to meet the child and instantly saw that the child looked like him. He knew from then on that the child would be a part of his life and he bonded with the boy immediately. Although the welfare department requested that men Yvonne had been intimate with be tested for paternity so that they could pay child support all of them declined except David. He did so willingly knowing in his heart that the child was his. The test proved conclusively that he was indeed the father. He was happy to accept the responsibility and arranged for visitation and furnished his home with all the necessary things he would need when his son visited. He was an involved father and loved spending time with his son.
What did police believe was David’s motive for harming this woman? They believed he hired someone to kill her so that he would no longer have to pay child support. He loves his son. He never once complained about paying support. He had a job, he had money in the bank and he had no reason to want Yvonne dead. The financial reasons didn’t even make sense since her death would result in him having 100% care of the child which would have been a much larger expense.
How did police build a case against David? When David’s grandfather learned that police wanted to question him about the murder of Yvonne, he consulted with an attorney. The attorney was out of town but he sent a letter to the police stating that David was not to be questioned at this time, but that he could be questioned at a later date if police offered him immunity. Here is the police report describing the request for immunity. David had no knowledge of this letter or the request for immunity but the letter made police extremely suspicious and they immediately considered him a suspect. They searched his car and his home but found no evidence. Several months after the murder, police received a tip from a woman who told them that Joe Wilkes may have been involved. Joe was an acquaintance of David’s so police went to Joe’s home and requested that he go with them to the police station to answer some questions.
Police used the “immunity letter” as ammunition in Joe’s interrogation. After Joe told them he knew nothing about the murder, they told this immature, 18 year old high school drop-out that David, if granted immunity from prosecution would give up Joe. You can read part of Joe’s interrogation here. They also told Joe that all they needed to convict him was David’s word and that he could receive the death penalty for this murder. Shortly after that, Joe believing that he was set up by David and wanting to avoid a death sentence, told police that David hired him for $300 to kill Yvonne. He testified to this at David’s trial and this is what convicted David. In July, 2001 Joe Wilkes recanted his statement.
Since there is a lot more to this case, I’m going to write about it in phases. I will cover the botched police investigation and mishandling of evidence; the new details proving that Joe Wilkes’ version of how the murder took place were impossible; the other witnesses from the trial and additional evidence which, when combined proves David Thorne had nothing to do with the murder of Yvonne Lane and deserves to be set free.