Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 38° Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Suspect may have killed third man


Thomson
 (The Spokesman-Review)
Thomson (The Spokesman-Review)

Authorities say the man suspected of killing a missing Spokane resident and a Western Washington woman appears to have added a third victim in Southern California.

John Wayne Thomson’s alleged third victim is a California man who had been driving from Las Vegas.

Thomson, 46, also has been charged with the murder of Kelso, Wash., resident Lori A. Hamm, 36. Her body was found Tuesday in woods between Kelso and Castle Rock.

Thomson is suspected, but not charged, in the presumed homicide of 73-year-old James F. Ehrgott, of Spokane.

Ehrgott was last seen July 6 at a restaurant on North Market Street. His car was found July 12 at a private camp site near Toledo, Wash., in Lewis County – just north of Cowlitz County.

Now Thomson is wanted in San Bernardino, Calif., in the disappearance of a man whose blood-soaked pickup truck was found Wednesday near a car Thomson allegedly stole from Kelso resident Amber Davis, who was not harmed.

Davis’ Honda Civic was found Tuesday, abandoned near Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass area north of San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles. Employees at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, when shown a photo of Thomson, said he had been in the restaurant on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Charlie Rosenzweig, chief criminal deputy for the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, said a search of Davis’ car produced “some evidence which we believe is fairly significant and will help us locate Mr. Thomson.”

Rosenzweig declined to elaborate on the evidence or to comment on how Hamm was killed.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department quickly focused on Thomson on Wednesday when a woman reported her husband, 55-year-old Charles Ray Hedlund of Lucerne Valley, Calif., was missing.

Hedlund had been in Las Vegas and told his wife he planned to drive straight to work in Beaumont, Calif., on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning – but he never arrived.

The trip would have taken him through the isolated area where Davis’ car was found, according to San Bernardino sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Beavers.

Hedlund’s pickup was found about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in an off-highway vehicle recreation area a few miles south of the place where Davis’ car was found.

Beavers said investigators found “a significant amount of blood” in Hedlund’s truck, but haven’t said how they think Hedlund may have been killed.

A methodical search of the area was planned today in hopes of finding Hedlund or other evidence, Beavers said.

She said no other cars or people have been reported missing.

Beavers didn’t have details, but said investigators have recovered one weapon associated with Thomson and believe he now has a different gun.

In addition to murder warrants from San Bernardino and Cowlitz counties, Thomson is wanted on a federal fugitive warrant and a Lewis County warrant charging unlawful possession of a firearm, trafficking in stolen property and first-degree possession of stolen property.

Two Spokane police detectives will travel to Cowlitz County on Sunday to join a task force investigating Hamm’s death and Ehrgott’s disappearance. The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office task force will include officers from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Spokane and Longview police departments.

Witnesses told a Lewis County sheriff’s deputy that Thomson had been driving Ehrgott’s car, and the deputy found the case for a revolver that Spokane resident Patricia Clay said Thomson stole from her when he left her home on July 6.

Spokane police spokesman Cpl. Tom Lee said Thomson had been living a short time with Clay, who corresponded with him before his recent release from prison.

Lee declined to comment on how detectives believe Thomson may have come into contact with Ehrgott.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said Hamm’s family and a local sorority have offered a $6,000 reward for information leading to Thomson’s arrest. To report information, call (360) 577-1206.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.