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Police Discount Drifter’s Claim Of 2 Murders Colorado Detectives Grill Him In Tacoma, Find No Connection

Sun., Feb. 15, 1998

A drifter’s claims that he murdered a University of Colorado student and a transient appear to be false, police said Friday.

Two Boulder detectives spent Wednesday and Thursday in Tacoma interviewing Kelly Ray Thompson.

The officers flew to Washington after Thompson, 29, a suspect in a Tacoma murder, told authorities he had killed several people, including CU student Susannah Chase and David Simpson.

They returned Friday without a suspect in either case.

“It appears that Thompson has been in Boulder off and on since September 1997 until last month, however, the investigation seems to indicate that he was not in Boulder when Susannah was attacked,” said lead police investigator Kerry Yamaguchi.

Thompson also reportedly boasted he killed Simpson, a 48-year-old transient. Simpson died Sept. 3 after being hit in the head and face. His body was found along Boulder Creek on the University of Colorado campus.

CU police Lt. Michell Irving said Thompson is not a suspect in that case because he was in California under parole supervision at the time.

Boulder police took DNA samples from Thompson to compare with those taken from a baseball bat that may have been used to beat the 23-year-old Chase. She was found unconscious near her Boulder home Dec. 21 and died the following day.

Yamaguchi said those samples will be analyzed and the investigation will continue. He also said police would investigate whether Thompson is connected to any other assaults or crimes that occurred while he was in Boulder.

“We do not have a strong suspect in the Chase murder yet,” he said. “We continue to reiterate the need for people to take personal safety precautions …” Thompson was arrested Tuesday in the slaying of a Tacoma woman after he was stopped for erratic driving on Interstate 5 south of Vader, Wash., by Lewis County sheriff’s deputy Tedd Betts, who noticed blood on Thompson’s hands and clothing.

Thompson directed authorities to a home where police found the body of Cathy Jean Jacks-Webb, 41, the owner of the car he was driving. He had stayed at her home recently.

Thompson has pleaded innocent to a charge of first-degree murder in that case and remains in jail in Pierce County, Wash., lieu of $2million bail.

Thompson said during a jailhouse interview with KIRO-TV of Seattle that he admitted to the murders because “I think there’s a lot of people out there wondering why, what happened.”

“It’s not because I feel guilty for the victims,” he said. “It would be a lie.”

Thompson said he committed his first murder when he was 15 and was tired of hiding. He said he has killed nine people in California, Texas, Colorado and in Washington.

Tacoma police spokesman Jim Mattheis said Tacoma police won’t release information on any other investigations until next week.

Thompson has a prison record in California and Illinois. At the time of his arrest, he was being sought for parole violation.

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