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  1. #1
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    ID - Boise, WhtMale, alias 'William Toomey', cyanide suicide in church, Dec'82

    I haven't been able to find much info on this Doe. He was featured on an Unsolved Mysteries segment. I am unsure if he was ever identified, but it seems like he hasn't been. He went into the Sacred Hearts Church in Boise, Idaho, and committed suicide by taking cyanide capsules. The John Doe was dressed in Western attire (with a very distinctive belt with a coin in it), and the only name on his person was "Wm L. Toomey," but noything can be found on a person with that name (seems to be a pseudonym). He left a large sum of money ($1900) to the church to cover funeral costs.


    Here are some links, but there seems to be practically nothing on him out there, the 2nd link is about the murder of a priest but mentions this doe, as possibly being connected to this case, there is a post-mortem photo of him in the article, about half way down:

    http://unsolvedmysteries.wikia.com/w...liam_L._Toomey

    THE FOLLOWING LINK HAS A POST-MORTEM PICTURE OF THE DECEASED IN THE ARTICLE:

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2005-06-17/275319/

    ETA: Here is a link to the Unsolved Mysteries Segment on this Doe:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJD5buvqRs8
    Last edited by KateB; 04-29-2015 at 06:45 PM. Reason: repair url tag.

  2. #2
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    This is an unexplained death, not an "unidentified person"???

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by summer_breeze View Post
    This is an unexplained death, not an "unidentified person"???
    AFAIK, he is still UID. I don't think the ID he was carrying was valid.
    Last edited by CarlK90245; 03-25-2012 at 04:52 PM.

  4. #4
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    The name was traced to be a manufacturer of Catholic vestments in Boston, MA. There was no connection to this man.

    The way he was found indicates to me he took the cyanide while he was kneeling to pray. As suicide is a mortal sin in the Catholic faith, I believe he was probably saying the Act of Contrition when he died. I have always wondered if this man had some connection to the sexual abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church.

    He had no ID on him. Wm. L. Toomey was the name signed to the suicide note.

  5. #5
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    Oops! Thank you!

    My reading comprehension was a little off yesterday......apologies.

  6. #6
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    I wonder if this gentleman could have been a priest or an ex-priest and/or been from Ireland. Several things make me think of this possibility:
    Looking at the picture of him, he looks Irish to me, off the boat Irish, Ireland exported a lot of priests through the 1980s.
    The link to the Boston vestment manufacturer (Boston also being one of the first places Irish emigres go.)
    The bolo and top button buttoned, could be someone who was used to wearing a collar.
    Toomey is an Irish surname.

    If he was a priest and was in Latin America (the Mexican belt), it is entirely possible he became dishearten by the violence against the clergy there at the time and left the priesthood. (Oscar Romero, three nuns and a lay missionary, etc in the year or two before John Doe's death.)

  7. #7
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    Bumping.
    Where is Shawn Hale? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/7546/0/ Missing from Apple Valley CA since 11/04/1994

    Where is Michelle Crawford? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/14428/0/ Missing from Lawton, OK since 06/08/1999

    Where is Jennifer Lee Schmidt? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/4822/0/ (Missing From West Lafayette IN(Purdue University) since 08/06/85.

  8. #8
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    That Austin Chronicle article was very comprehensive and interesting.

    It mentioned this:

    The note was signed with a pseudonym, "Wm. L. Toomey," which (Boise Police Detective Frank) Richardson said he later discovered was the name of a company that manufactured priest and nun garb. There was no doubt in Richardson's mind that his Boise John Doe was intimately connected to the Catholic Church; for that reason, the story of the Ryan murder aroused his suspicions.

  9. #9
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    AFAIK, someone cannot walk into the local neighborhood pharmacy and purchase cyanide pill/tablet. But according to this article, such tablets are routinely given to members of the military and/or espionage agents and organizations who run the risk of being captured. Maybe someone had access to that type of cyanide pill due to their type of employment.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_pill


    Also, there was/is a monastery in Sandia ,TX. In the 1980's it was a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery. It is now a monastery affiliated with the Coptic Orthodox church. There is a very long article at this link on the history of the monastery:
    http://www.abbey.suscopts.org/

    Quoting a few sentences from the abbey's site:

    The land on which the Abbey is built was originally founded by the Roman Catholic Church in 1927 as a theological school and faculty residence. In 1961, Pope John XXIII elevated the establishment's status to that of an Abbey naming it the "Corpus Christi Abbey and Benedictine Retreat Center" in which monastic vocations were accepted and fulfilled. For the next four decades the Abbey would be a place of refuge and retreat for its monks, those they served and the surrounding communities at large.

    Instead of a former priest, could John Doe have been a former Roman Catholic Benedictine monk?
    Last edited by rainwater; 06-07-2015 at 12:26 PM. Reason: added Sandia, deleted Corpus Christi TX
    Where is Shawn Hale? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/7546/0/ Missing from Apple Valley CA since 11/04/1994

    Where is Michelle Crawford? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/14428/0/ Missing from Lawton, OK since 06/08/1999

    Where is Jennifer Lee Schmidt? https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/4822/0/ (Missing From West Lafayette IN(Purdue University) since 08/06/85.

  10. #10
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    I think cyanide was easier to procure in 1982, which incidentally was the year of the Chicago Tylenol murders.

    ETA: I'm not suggesting there's a link between the two, only that someone could obtain cyanide and put it in a capsule fairly easily.


  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    Most likely coincidences. Three different states, years apart, and nothing else too similar.

    Giving an alias on a suicide note is fairly common practice, most don't want their families to know what happened to them. Some of their families can get their life insurance if the person is legally declared dead after being missing for a few years but life insurance will not pay out to families of those who committed suicide.

    Cyanide is also a fairly common way of committing suicide. It's supposed to be extremely quick, not terribly messy, and a lot less intimidating than other means of suicide (Shooting oneself and/or jumping to their death)

  13. #13
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    Didn't Leonard Lake take a cyanide pill too? I don't think it was *that* hard for a regular person to get ahold of it back in those days. I've heard of a few cases, some mentioned here, where members of the general public were able to obtain it for whatever reason. I don't think that's going to be much of a clue to his identity.

    I remember seeing this case on Unsolved Mysteries many years ago. Of course this is just my opinion but I am thinking he didn't have family that he left behind. I don't know why he wouldn't want to be identified, because it seems that the church was very important to him, and you can't hide your identity from God anyway. I wonder why he chose to hide it from everyone else. I don't think this one is ever going to be solved, but for some reason I feel ok with that, more than I do on almost every UID case.

  14. #14
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    I am posting the relevant paragraphs to the case from the Austin Chronicle article I originally posted (http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2005-06-17/275319/). Its quite a fascinating article, including a potentially innocent man behind bars, who is thought to have killed Father Ryan (another case featured on Unsolved Mysteries). The author of the article suggests that the unidentified man may instead be the real killer. Anyways, here is the relevant paragraphs:

    On Dec. 4, 1982, a deeply suntanned man, about 40 years old, walked into the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Boise, Idaho, and readied himself for confession. He never got a chance to recount his sins to the priest. As he waited – perhaps not realizing it would be several minutes before the confessional was available, or perhaps despairing of the condition of his soul – the man swallowed a cyanide capsule. A few minutes later, he was dead.

    When police came to investigate, they found that the man had no identification. A note in his pocket said only that the $1,900 he carried should be used for his burial, with any remainder donated to the church. The note was signed with what turned out to be a false name. To this day, no one has been able to identify the man, nor to determine why he had come to the church to absolve himself of his sins.

    On the answers to that mystery may hang the fate of a small, quiet, meticulous man who now lives in South Austin, and who spent 20 years in a Texas prison for a murder he says he did not commit, but which investigators believe may be connected to the dead man at the Boise Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

    ...

    Reyos’ supporters suspect that this man, who commited suicide inside the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Boise, Idaho, in December 1982, is quite likely connected to, or in fact responsible for, the murders of Fathers Patrick Ryan in Odessa and Benjamin Carrier in Yuma, Ariz. Although Boise Detective Frank Richardson traced the dead man’s distinctive belt buckle back to one Arizona gift shop, investigators have never been successful in identifying the man who remains known only as the Boise John Doe.

    ...

    Desperate for Priests
    The reporters were not only convinced of Reyos' innocence, they also suspected there was some connection between Ryan's death and the Catholic Church. Wyatt constructed a complex database of priests, scouring the U.S. Official Catholic Directory – an annual yearbook of clergy that lists diocese, assignments, and deaths, among other things – for the five years leading up to and after Ryan's death. "I put everyone into the database," Wyatt recalled. The reporters were looking for patterns, and they found one. "There were clearly some [priests] that were killed; there were clearly some that were missing," he said. The team also scoured old wire reports, and found a string of priest murders stretching from Texas, New Mexico, through Arizona, and up into the Pacific Northwest. While several of the cases had produced viable suspects, several others had not – significantly, a murder in Yuma, Ariz., remained unsolved, Wyatt said. And the Yuma murder was eerily similar to the murder of Father Ryan: In early November 1982, 54-year-old Father Benjamin Carrier was found in a Yuma motel room, face down, naked, his hands tied behind his back, dead from asphyxiation.

    There was a further coincidence. In 1993, Boise Police Detective Frank Richardson happened to see a story on Reyos' case on the television program A Current Affair. The story nudged Richardson's intuition. Although he didn't have any hard evidence to support his instinct, Richardson suspected that there was a connection between Ryan's death and an 11-year-old cold case that still nagged at him. On Dec. 4, 1982, just three weeks after Reyos was arrested, a suntanned man walked into the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Boise, Idaho, for confession. In his pocket was a folded note and $1,900. But as he waited his turn in the confessional, the man swallowed a cyanide capsule and died. The note in his pocket said only that the money he carried should be used for his burial, and the rest donated to the church. The note was signed with a pseudonym, "Wm. L. Toomey," which Richardson said he later discovered was the name of a company that manufactured priest and nun garb. There was no doubt in Richardson's mind that his Boise John Doe was intimately connected to the Catholic Church; for that reason, the story of the Ryan murder aroused his suspicions.

    Richardson contacted Reyos' lawyers, and word of the Boise John Doe soon reached reporters Swindle and Wyatt. Additional clues from the Boise case solidified Swindle, Wyatt, and Richardson's now shared belief that the man was connected to the murders of Ryan and Carrier. Specifically, Richardson was intrigued by the man's suntan – hard to come by in December in Idaho – and by the unique bolo tie and belt buckle that he wore. "We traced the belt back to one gift shop in Phoenix," Richardson recalled recently. Yet Richardson and the BPD were unable to find a positive ID for their John Doe. They ran his fingerprints through several databases without results. Swindle and Wyatt also tried and failed. "We got a cop to run them in certain places, and this was kind of off-the-books," Wyatt recalls. "He didn't find much."

    The absence of a match meant that the researchers could rule out several possibilities: John Doe was never charged with a crime, he never served in the military, and he was not a member of a licensed profession. That left few possibilities, and the one that nagged at the men was that John Doe was a priest. "Catholic priests move in circles and travel gratis and can literally pop up in places," says Wyatt. "For example, Father Ryan never had a driver's license, [and] we never found any [other] documentary evidence."

    ...

    Matthiesen's memory loss doesn't surprise Richardson or Wyatt, who say that the Church offered very little help to them as they tried, along with Swindle (who died of cancer last year), to get information that could point to the identity of the Boise John Doe or to help determine who killed Ryan and Carrier. "[Swindle] came from Dallas, and we went to the ... [Boise] church and questioned the priest," Richardson recalled. "All we got out of him when we confronted him with our suspicions was a big, old grin." Richardson has since retired from the force, and the John Doe case remains unsolved. "It's ironic that the cyanide kicked in before he could get into the confessional. He was about to make a huge gesture, to croak in the confessional," said Wyatt, who said the dead man had apparently miscalculated the time he would spend waiting for confession. "He died without absolution."

    Nonetheless, Richardson, Wyatt, and Swindle all agreed on the basics of what they believed happened to Fathers Ryan and Carrier. "What I can prove and what my gut feeling is are different," Richardson said. They believe Ryan knew his attacker – maybe the Boise John Doe – with whom he had planned a rendezvous for sex. Inside the Sand and Sage motel room, something went very wrong, erupting into a violent, sexually charged killing. That scenario is also plausible to retired prosecutor Cadra and trial attorney Cliff, neither of whom believes that Ryan's death was a random event. Perhaps, Cliff posits, Ryan met his attacker through the church, possibly at Jemez Springs in New Mexico, the infamous, and now bankrupt, Catholic facility for alcoholic and pedophile priests.

    That's also what Cliff's trial partner John Smith, the current Ector Co. DA, thought. "He had a theory that Father Ryan [was at a] ... retreat hidden [in New Mexico] where they would send wayward priests, and then send them to small counties," Cliff said. Indeed, Swindle and Wyatt considered the same theory, and that perhaps John Doe also spent time at Jemez Springs. In November 1993, Swindle wrote a letter to one of the Paraclete fathers, who minister to their wayward brethren and who worked in Eastern New Mexico, asking him to look at a sketch of the Boise John Doe, to see if he could identify the man, but he never got a response.

  15. #15
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    Here is a composite of the John Doe. In the original article there is also a post mortem (looks like its from the investigation scene).

    William_toomey.jpg

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