The David Thorne case has many of the classic tell tale signs of a wrongful conviction – tunnel vision, poor evidence collection at crime scene, poor defense representation, coerced witnesses and lies. A lie can be so powerful in a criminal case. Evidenced by the many convictions overturned in recent years, we now know that many of them were built solely on lies. It typically takes new physical evidence to finally bring the truth to light. The problem with some cases is that when the investigations are so poorly handled such as the Thorne case, it is difficult to find that new information that can help free the wrongfully convicted – but we must keep searching. We do this because we know the State’s case doesn’t hold up. We know there must be something or someone that can help the person and we must continue to try. Though an excellent website already exists, I would like to highlight some of the major problems with the case that I recently observed while reviewing all of the files once again. These things demonstrate how unlikely it is that either Joe Wilkes or David Thorne had anything to do with this horrible crime and why we must keep searching for a way to free these men.
A personal crime?
For those new to this case, Yvonne Layne was found murdered in her home on April 1,1999. She was found with her throat slit in a pool of blood in the center of an oddly staged crime scene with furniture items carefully placed on and near the body. A photo of an unknown baby girl was found on the floor between her legs as was an overturned potted plant. The staging is indicative of a personal crime as it’s unlikely that a random person would take the time to stage the scene. Also, though 3 of her children were locked in upstairs bedrooms, a 4th child (age 4) was found walking freely in the home and he was clean and dressed and wearing shoes that were tied. The child was unable to dress himself and certainly couldn’t tie his own shoes. The fact that a child was somehow kept away from his mother’s blood for so many hours and was clean and dressed indicates that someone cared for him. Certainly only someone close to him would take the time to ensure that he was clean. Police believe that the murder took place the night of 3/31. If that’s true, this child would have been alone with his mother’s body for potentially as long as 17 1/2 hours and certainly should have had blood on him. Someone ensured that he either remained clean or was cleaned up and dressed before police arrived. When studying this case however, it is clear that those closest to the victim were never investigated. The police made up their minds right away that David Thorne was responsible.
Why did police focus on Thorne?
Thorne agreed to speak to police the day after Yvonne was found. Unbenownst to Thorne, his grandfather had arranged for an attorney to send a letter to police requesting immunity in order for Thorne to speak to them. Police were unable to ask Thorne any questions and they felt that Thorne was hiding something by sending the immunity letter. David Thorne knew nothing about this letter! Had he known, he would have never agreed to it. He would have answered questions and it’s very likely that he would have never been pursued as a suspect and certainly wouldn’t have been convicted. Here is testimony from the lead investigator at a preliminary hearing about the phone call and discussion about the requested immunity from David’s grandfather’s attorney.
How did they build a case against Thorne?
Joseph Wilkes: The State’s theory is that Joseph Wilkes murdered Yvonne in a murder for hire scheme – that David Thorne paid him a sum of $300 to kill her. Investigators had custody of Wilkes for 20 short minutes and in that time they received a confession. That 20 minute interview was not recorded.
- Wilkes didn’t have a lawyer present.
- Police lied to Wilkes and told him that David Thorne implicated him in the murder.
- Police told Wilkes that he could potentially receive the death penalty if he didn’t “confess”.
- Police told Wilkes that if he “confessed” he could be out in 7 years.
- Police told Wilkes where he stayed that night.
- Police told Wilkes that he purchased a knife at K-Mart that night.
- Police told Wilkes how the murder was committed – a complete scenario.
- Police took Wilkes to a drain ditch near Yvonne’s home and told him that the knife was found there; police claim that Wilkes directed them to the location – a lie.
Why Joe Wilkes?
Once police understood that Thorne couldn’t have murdered Yvonne because he was in another town taking a class that night, they looked closely at all of his associates. There is a police record of an incident in which a car windshield was broken. Joe apparently blamed David for the broken windshield, David accepted responsibility for it even though he said that Joe broke it. I believe this is how police set out to frame Joseph Wilkes. He knew David Thorne, he was young and he was easy to manipulate.
Lies and inconsistencies begin:
Rose Mohr and Chris Campbell both stated that they saw Joe the night of 3/31 at the Carnation Mall food court in Alliance. That places Joe in the same town as Yvonne Layne – he was staying with the Enoch family 20 miles away at the time. Rose came into this case when she allegedly told her mother that she had information about that night. .The story goes that her mother told the apartment manager who then contacted the police. Police first contacted Rose’s mother and then Rose. I believe that the statements from Chris and Rose enabled police to frame Joe. In any case, lies and inconsistencies are flags – an indication that it can’t be trusted, an indication that it was probably manufactured. This case is filled with lies and inconsistencies, beginning with Rose and Chris and in turn the entire case against Joe.
- Rose testified that Joe was hired to do a job by some guy; Chris testified that Joe was hired to do a job by his girlfriend.
- Rose testified that Joe said he was “hired to kill a girl”; Chris did not testify that Joe was in town to kill a girl. He only said that he was hired by his girlfriend to do a job.
- Though Chris testified at trial that Joe was hired to do a job, in his police interview he said Joe was hired to kill a girl. (Why did he change his testimony? Was he coerced during his police interview?)
- Both said that Joe showed them a knife purchased from K-Mart. Rose described it as a hunting knife in a sheath. Chris described it as a folding knife.
- Both said in police interviews that Joe was wearing white pants. At trial, Rose said he was wearing dark pants. Chris wasn’t asked about the color. (Prosecutors presented evidence of dark pants that Joe allegedly wore that night).
- Rose never mentioned anything about Joe discussing his “trainer” in either her police interview or at trial. At the end of the police interview, Chris said that Joe spoke of his trainer that night but he couldn’t recall his name. At trial, Chris said the trainer was David Thorne.
- Rose testified that Joe wrote his number down on the back of a business card and gave it to Chris. Chris placed it in his wallet. Chris never mentioned the card. In a post conviction hearing, it was revealed by a handwriting expert that it was not Joe’s hand writing. Rose later admitted that she wrote it.
- Police have some sketchy hand written notes from a July 9th interview with either Chris, Rose or both. There is no mention of the Comfort Inn and no mention of a K-Mart knife purchase.
- On a supplemental report dated July 20th, police state that they visited a clerk at the Comfort Inn on July 9th and verified that Joe Wilkes stayed there on March 31st. (Did he really stay there or was this also manufactured?)
- Rose testified that while sitting with Joe that night, she became nervous and got up and walked around the mall for a while. When she returned, Joe had left. Chris testified that all 3 sat there until Rose’s father arrived to pick them up; then Joe left. Both testified that as they were driving away from the mall they saw Joe walking toward the center of town and that Rose’s father beeped at him after Chris said “There’s my friend, beep at him!”.
- Interestingly, both Chris and Rose were fired from their mall job on April 1st for not showing up for work for 3 days.
- When police interviewed Joe, he never mentioned Chris and Rose and police never questioned him about them. At trial, Joe’s version of meeting them again was inconsistent with their stories. For example, Joe said he saw them as he was walking through the food court. When asked what they talked about, he had no recollection whatsoever.
Because of so many inconsistencies, I find it difficult to trust anything coming from Chris and Rose. Were they coerced? Chris Campbell was arrested on a drug charge a few days after his July police interview and held in jail for 6 months – until after he testified at Thorne’s trial. I think it’s very possible that the entire story is fabricated and they never actually saw Joe Wilkes that night.
Additional Key Facts:
- Phone records indicate that aside from one 8 minute call between Joe and David on 3/25, there was NO communication between them whatsoever in the days leading up to the murder. Even the 8 minute call can’t be verified as coming from Joe because it was placed from a payphone to David’s home. Assuming the call was from Joe, that means that the entire plot was planned in a total of 8 minutes.
- Joe was allegedly staying with the Enochs beginning on 3/27, so 4 days before the murder yet there isn’t one call from their home to David’s home.
- Joe was kicked out of his girlfriend’s home on 3/27 and desperately looking for a place to stay. David would have had no way of knowing that Joe ended up at the Enoch’s. How then did David know to pick Joe up there on 3/31 to drive him to the Comfort Inn to rent a room for the night? There is no way.
- The official story is that Joe was given a $100 bill to pay for his stay at the Comfort Inn. It cost $59.76. Karen Enoch told police that he came home and said he had $40 and bought a carton of cigarettes. If this is true, he wouldn’t have had enough money left to pay for the batting gloves and knife he allegedly purchased that night. If it isn’t true, Karen is lying. If it isn’t true, is ANY of this story true? It can’t be trusted once a lie is evident.
- Karen told police in her initial interview that Joe arrived home at 11AM that morning; at trial it was changed to “morning” with no specific time. If Joe arrived home at 11AM, David couldn’t possibly have driven him as he was verified at work at that time.
- During Joe’s police interview he said that David picked him up and drove him to the Comfort Inn that evening. That’s impossible because David was in another town taking a class that night. At trial, Joe testified that Brent Enoch drove him to the hotel. Brent testified that he drove him as well. Joe didn’t even know what story the police needed him to recite. He “got it wrong” so police made sure it was fixed before trial.
- Prosecutors violated Brady laws and withheld evidence of a neighbor stating that he saw a white male leaving Yvonne’s home at approximately 9:30 the morning of April 1st. He was shown an initial photo line-up and he identified the man. Police told him he must be mistaken because that man was a cop. He was shown a second line-up which included David Thorne’s photo, cop photo removed. He didn’t identify anyone.
- Joe reportedly had no change of clothing with him, yet returned home the next day still wearing a white wind breaker and the same pants and shoes.
- Summer Enoch testified that Joe bought new tennis shoes several days after the murder and put the old ones in the box and disposed of them. We’re to believe he was walking around in the same bloody shoes for days? David Thorne’s car had no blood in it.
- In the police interview, Joe stated that David paid him $100 on 3/31 for the hotel, knife and gloves; and paid him an additional $200 the following morning. The story changed. By trial it changed to – “Joe didn’t receive the rest of the money until the day of the funeral, 6 days later.” The Enochs supported the “new” story and testified that Joe continually asked where David was because he was waiting for his money for “cleaning the garage”.
- The Enochs allegedly picked Joe up 20 miles away the Tuesday before the murder (so one day prior) but warned him that they were not going to be chauffeurs for him! We’re to believe that the very next day, Joe asked Brent to drive him to the Carnation mall (again 20 miles away) and Brent said “No problem!”.
- The Comfort Inn where Joe allegedly stayed that night was 4 miles from Yvonne’s home. It was approximately a 90 minute walk. Joe allegedly purchased the knife that he would later use for the murder at 8:10PM and told police that David told him to finish the job by 10PM because David would be “on a surveillance camera at a convenience store” at that time. Why didn’t Joe choose a smaller hotel much closer to Yvonne’s home? Why did he register in his own name?
- Police tried to get Joe to describe seeing puppies at the home and a small child; Joe said he saw neither.
There is much, much more to this story and many more inconsistencies. Of course, probably the biggest issue with the State’s case is that it couldn’t possibly have happened the way Joe described it. See Brent Turvey’s report. I think it’s important to point out all of the other smaller issues with the case because they all add up to a case that clearly remains unsolved. We will continue working on this until the case is solved and these men are freed. If you have any information that could be helpful, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.