Crime & Courts

Eagle River man charged with murder in girlfriend's strangling

An Eagle River man accused of strangling his 19-year-old girlfriend Wednesday night has been charged with murder.

David Joseph Thomas, 28, made his initial court appearance Thursday at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. He faces first- and second-degree murder charges, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison.

Thomas appeared in court wearing a green protective vest rather than the typical yellow jail suits worn by most offenders.

A District Court judge granted assistant district attorney Jonas Walker's request of $500,000 cash appearance and $250,000 cash performance bonds. If he posts the bonds, Thomas is also required to find a third-party custodian and he's not allowed to drink.

Thomas was taken into custody in an Eagle River parking lot Wednesday night after calling police and stating he wanted to surrender. The body of Linda Anne Martz Bower was found in the back seat of Thomas' 1993 Mercedes.

Anchorage police were first notified of the murder by Thomas' brother, who called police at 10:24 p.m. Wednesday saying Thomas had just told him he strangled and killed Bower. The judge ordered Thomas not to contact his brother, as he's now a witness in the case.

According to the charges, the brother told police that when he said he intended to call 911, Thomas fled their shared residence with the deceased woman in his car.

About 15 minutes later, Thomas called police and told a dispatcher "that he was in the Walgreens parking lot and wanted to turn himself in," the charges say. Then, he hung up the phone.

Police arrived at the store five minutes later. They identified Thomas and discovered Bower's body in the back seat of the Mercedes. Anchorage police reported earlier Thursday that Thomas had been taken into custody without incident.

During his interview at the Anchorage Police Department, Thomas said he remembered being in his bedroom and having his hands around Bower's throat but he lost memory of what happened next, the charges say. He told police he woke up on the floor of his bedroom; then the next thing he remembered was sitting in the front seat of his car with Bower dead in the back seat.

Thomas asked for and was granted a public defender. He said he'd been unemployed for the past three weeks. As the court started addressing bail, Thomas spoke up.

"I wouldn't like to get bail," he said. "I don't need bail."

A woman who identified herself as the mother of the victim listened to the court hearing over the phone and said she also didn't want a bail set. "I want him to rot in jail," she said.

Walker noted that Thomas has a misdemeanor conviction in Montana in 2006 for violating a protective order.

On Thursday, police continued to gather evidence at the Walgreens where Thomas surrendered and in the Eagle River home Thomas shared with his brother.

Bower's death is the 11th homicide in 2014 within the Anchorage Police Department's jurisdiction, APD spokesperson Anita Shell said.

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.

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