Thomas Clayton was playing poker at his friend’s house in upstate New York on the Night of September 28, 2015.
According to ABC, he left the game just after midnight and found his wife, Kelley Clayton, had been brutally beaten to death in their kitchen while his two children were sleeping. He called the police in panic.
On the recorded 911 call, he said:
“Help me, my wife’s dead.”
Body camera footage, released a few days ago, revealed the grisly state of the house when the Steuben County police officers arrived.
Blood stains were found on the walls and floors from the upstairs hallway to the kitchen.
Police officers tried to calm Thomas outside his home, but he was shaking uncontrollably.
But not long after the police arrived did they suspect something was off. The house had not been broken into and there was nothing stolen.
Even though Thomas had been away from the house that evening, they took him into custody and started to investigate his alibi.
The police received more than 160 leads in four days. They interviewed friends from the poker match and learned that Thomas asked Linda Miller, host of the poker night, to make a call using her phone.
When Miller went to look on her phone, reports Star Gazette, she noticed the calls had been deleted.
After looking into the phone records, it was determined that Thomas had called a former co-worker named Michael Beard.
The police officers investigated Beard and he was arrested.
Beard then confessed to police that Thomas hired him to kill his wife for $10,000.
He pointed them to a nearby canal where they later found the murder weapon, a fiberglass handle, and bloody clothes.
A full investigation of Thomas’s phone records showed that he had made 68 calls to Beard in September 2015.
In the weeks after the confession, Beard later recanted his testimony and told prosecutors that he was hired to burn down the house for insurance money.
But the police believed they had enough evidence connecting Thomas to Beard. They charged Thomas with murder in the first degree and conspiracy.
During Beard’s trial, he told the jury that he found Kelley already dead in the kitchen. But he was found guilty of her murder and was given a life sentence.
Kelley’s family wrote in a statement, recorded by Star Gazette:
“You, Michael Beard, are a coward. Only a coward would attack a woman in her bed. I pray you will acknowledge and accept responsibility for what you have done. We will never see her again. Charlie and Cullen will never see their mother again.”
The case against Thomas didn’t have as much evidence as Beard. But after a seven-week trail, he was found guilty of her murder.
— Kelly Gampel (@theSGphotos) February 23, 2017
After his trial was over, Kelley’s family was relieved by the verdict but were still grieving for her loss. Her mother walked out of the courtroom and said:
“I’m sorry for [Thomas’] family. No one won here today. We’re just two families torn apart.”
Kelley’s family is taking care of the two children she left behind. Thomas will face his sentencing on April 24.