Thomas Randolph case: 6 wives, 4 dead, 1 death sentence
10/26/2017 3:57 pm PDT
A masked intruder busts through a suburban home outside of Las Vegas. And in a matter of minutes -- two people would be dead, and hundreds of questions would be raised.
Pistol-packing husband Tom Randolph has just killed an armed intruder who has left Mrs. Randolph dying inside their home.
Dramatic police video would lead to the capture of a serial killer who'd been murdering women and somehow going undetected for the past 30 years.
It's a Thursday night in Las Vegas in 2009. Sin City locals Tom Randolph and wife Sharon are leaving the neon lights of the strip to the tourists and sharing a romantic dinner at a quiet suburban restaurant before going to the movies.
"Sharon's favorite thing in the entire world was to go to movies. She was a movie fanatic," said Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth.
It was supposed to be to celebrate Mother's Day, but Tom tells authorities on this date she's in the mood for something else.
"She wanted to go home and have sex with Tom Randolph," Jacqueline Bluth tells Crime Watch Daily. "And so he takes her home."
Tom acts out his version of that night's deadly events in dramatic videotape shot by detectives themselves.
"We're doing a walkthrough of the house, kind of a re-enactment of what happened last Thursday," Randolph says in the intro to the video.
Sharon's gone into the house ahead of Tom.
"I start pulling in."
Tom parks the car and walks into the house.
"And I turned the light on myself as we got in."
He sees something shocking at the end of a hallway leading to their bedroom.
"I get right here and Sharon's laying in the floor, face down. And I stopped right about here at the door. Said 'Sharon. Sharon.'"
Then something suddenly stops Tom in his tracks as he's going to her aid.
"I thought I just seen like a shadow or something over this way."
Tom goes to a closet where he keeps a 9-millimeter handgun.
"And I just reached up, just like that, grabbed it, stick it in my pocket, came 'round just like that, and about that time he was right up on me. Just right up on me and we actually touched right about here."
Tom Randolph says he assumes the man wearing a ski mask had broken into the house while he and Sharon were at dinner, and shot her when she walked in and surprised him.
"And he kind of banged into me about right here, and he went over to about right here."
The intruder then reaches for a gun tucked in the belt of his pants.
"And he kind of rushed up on me a little bit and that's when I just pushed him, 'Boom, boom, boom.'"
Tom continues to fire his 9-millimeter as the intruder flees down the hall leading back to the garage.
"I don't know how many times I shot him, but I just kept right on going, 'Boom, boom, boom!'"
But Tom says he hears a noise from the garage. And fears the intruder is still alive.
"And I actually got close, 'Boom, boom!' And I don't know if I shot him once, I shot him twice. He wasn't moving. He was 'Ugh.'"
Tom calls out to his wife Sharon again. Tom says he wants to get to her but is now afraid there may be another intruder hiding in their home.
And he dramatically re-enacts step by step for police how he carefully searched the house.
"I started thinking there was somebody in the shower."
His 9-millimeter is in his hand and his finger is on the trigger.
"I was just trying to see if anything else is going on, if there's anybody around."
Finally satisfied there's not, Tom now approaches his wife lying in nighttime shadows on the hallway floor.
"And I think I turned the light on here. Turned that light on."
It's a horrifying sight.
"She was laying there, and by then I could tell she was hurt really, really bad. I mean the blood was just, you could see thick blood, and I came right over to call 911."
"My wife's been shot and there's a guy in my house and I shot him."
"Is he hurt too?"
"I hope he's dead."
Dispatch connects Tom to the emergency medical operator, who tries to tell him how to help his wife.
"Put her flat on her back."
"Oh [----], there's blood everywhere."
But with her life hanging in the balance, something is about to happen that will help change the entire course of the case.
Sharon Randolph lies motionless in a pool of blood, her life hanging in the balance. And her husband Tom has just killed the intruder who shot her at their suburban Las Vegas home.
Now just hours later, Tom's re-enacting the horror of it in dramatic police video.
But there are moments on the video and Tom's 911 call That make investigators wonder if there may be more to this crime than meets the eye.
"There's a lot not making sense about this story," said Clark County Chief Deputy D.A. Jacqueline Bluth.
Investigators think Tom Randolph seems unusually cold and callous. Like when he says he stumbled over Sharon. Lying in a darkened hallway and thought he'd tripped on shoes she'd left on the floor.
"And I'll tell you what else too. It drives me crazy, and I'd love for her to do it right now, but she would leave six or seven pair of shoes out. I don't know how many times I've hurt my back getting up in the middle of the night, trying to be quiet, 'cause I don't sleep at night, and all of a sudden it's [bangs on wall] ... '[----], [----], Sharon, Jesus.'"
And investigators only grow more suspicious when Tom tells of finally coming to his wife's aid after shooting the intruder.
"And I know the whole time I know I'm probably crying and yelling, going 'Sharon, goddamnit, [----], [----], Sharon, [----], talk to me,' something like that."
It occurs to them that Tom might not actually want Sharon to live when the emergency medical dispatcher is frantically trying to get him to do CPR.
"The dispatcher has to ask him between 12 and 15 times to render aid to Sharon. 'Should I go do this? Should I go do that?' 'Sir, you have to give your wife CPR,'" said Bluth.
Investigators think Tom Randolph is stalling.
"Put her flat on her back."
"Oh [----], there's blood everywhere."
"I said 'She's still not moving but she's bleeding really, really bad,' and he says 'That's why you've got to -- she's gonna die if you don't do this now.'"
But now Tom tells the dispatcher he's concerned that the intruder he shot may still be alive.
"Should I try to find his gun or something so he don't shoot me if he's not dead?"
"Be careful, but get his gun away from him."
"I'm gonna put this thing down and get my gun."
Tom locates the intruder.
"He's in the garage. I can see him."
"Is he moving?"
"Go get his gun. Go get his gun quickly."
"He don't seem to be moving and I got the gun."
"OK, you got the gun away from him?"
Now the dispatcher asks Tom to go tend to his dying wife again.
"So I got down like this, I laid the phone down something like that, I said 'Sharon, Sharon,' I'm trying to get her to respond in some way."
But then he stops talking to the dispatcher.
"Sir, can you hear me?"
"Ah, ah, ah, oh God."
Tom sounds hysterical and non-functional.
"Sir, come back to the phone."
Tom finally picks up the phone again to tell the dispatcher he can't move Sharon to give her CPR.
"I can't get her to roll over. I'm gonna try to do it again."
"We gotta try to do CPR. I need you to -- "
"And then I says 'Wow, this is really freaking me out,' I says 'I don't think I can do this.'"
Then Tom can be heard screaming. He's finally turned his wife on her back and seen her bloody mangled face for the first time. Tom gets back on the phone to tell the dispatcher he thinks Sharon's dead. The dispatcher tells him how to press Sharon's chest to get her heart beating again.
"I started doing the chest compressions."
"Sir, you gotta count as you're doing it."
"So then I started, 'one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, and I'm really just getting tired."
Investigators aren't buying it.
"I mean he was doing everything he could to make sure Sharon was dead," said Jacqueline Bluth.
"I reached across like this, took her pulse one more time. No pulse."
"He was going to make sure that she was dead and gone before the cops got there," said Bluth. "I think there was a good chance she was probably still alive."
When police arrive they find Sharon, 47, dead from a single gunshot wound to the head inflicted with the intruder's gun. And the intruder is lying dead too, from five bullet wounds, one of them in his head, delivered by Tom's 9mm handgun.
It doesn't take Las Vegas Metro Police Detective Dean O'Kelley long to see red flags.
"It was immediate for me at the crime scene," said Det. O'Kelley.
Tom Randolph arouses more suspicion when he himself points out the evidence of a burglary to investigators.
"'Look, there's the jewelry, there's the gloves, there's the gun, there's the ski mask. I mean what else do you want?'" said O'Kelley.
And one of O'Kelley's first questions is why Sharon's 52-year-old husband took so long to dial 911 -- more than 10 minutes after a neighbor had already reported hearing shots fired. Tom tries to explain.
"I dialed 911 and the phone didn't work. I remember saying '[----], what a time for Vonage to go out.'"
Tom tells detectives he then finds Sharon's cellphone on a table.
"Right here. I tried 911 again. And it was busy."
Tom says he keeps re-dialing.
"And that's when whoever said '911.'"
Suspicious, Det. O'Kelley also discovers evidence at the crime scene that tells a very different story than the one Tom re-enacts on video. Tom had claimed he encountered the intruder inside the house and was firing at him as he fled down the hallway toward the door to the garage. Det. O'Kelley says it just doesn't add up.
"There was no blood in the hallway," said O'Kelley.
Nor are there any bullets or casings as would be expected.
"We're not missing shell casings, we're not missing bullets, but they were all in the garage," said O'Kelley.
Which is where O'Kelley believes Tom really first encountered the intruder. And it doesn't appear Tom killed him in self-defense like he claims.
"That final shot was the coup de grace, a shot to the head to execute him," said Det. O'Kelley.
The plot further thickens with a shocking admission on Tom's 911 call.
"I know him. He's ripped me off. He's tried to rip me off."
For more than 55 minutes Thomas Randolph walks detectives through his Las Vegas home reliving what he says happened when he and his wife surprised a masked intruder.
But police are starting to think he's not just acting things out -- but the whole thing might be an act.
Tom Randolph has literally been playing the heroic husband. But right from the beginning Las Vegas Metro Police Det. Dean O'Kelley has Tom pegged as a villain.
"And in my book you had Thomas Randolph as a potential suspect five minutes after I walked in the door," said O'Kelley.
The forensic evidence at the crime scene directly contradicts Tom's story. And O'Kelley suspects Tom may have masterminded the killings of both his wife and the intruder.
"He set the whole thing up," said O'Kelley.
The pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place when the dead intruder is identified as Michael Miller, a 38-year-old handyman Tom had admitted was no stranger to him on his 911 call.
"I know him. He's ripped me off. He's tried to rip me off."
Investigators learn Tom had befriended Miller several months earlier.
"He takes him under his wing and starts having him around the house constantly," said Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth. "They're constantly shooting guns. They're constantly out doing target practice."
And investigators say Tom's wife and others had grown suspicious of what else the pair might have been getting up to.
"They're constantly having conversations over the telephone. Meetings in like secret rooms where no one can hear what's going on," said Bluth. "Everybody thought the relationship was very odd."
"In like a six- or eight-week period we have over 303 phone calls between the two of them," said Bluth.
Police suspect Tom may have hired Miller to murder Sharon and make it look like a burglary -- and then kill his hit man to silence him.
"Why do you think he broke into your house?"
"'Cause he was leaving the next day."
Tom admits to detectives that he'd given Miller $150 just hours before Sharon was shot dead.
"Maybe even more than that over a couple of days. It got to be where he'd come over and borrow 20 bucks, do a little bit of work."
Tom insists the money was just another one of many loans he'd made to Miller.
"So I says, 'You know you better not end up at the casino tonight because tomorrow if you come at my house early in the morning, or tonight, I'm just not answering the phone, I'm not answering the door. You ain't getting another penny from me.'"
But then investigators make an astounding discovery: Tom stands to make $360,000 out of his wife's death.
"He had several life insurance policies out on her. I think we were able to uncover four total," said Bluth.
Now detectives think they've found a motive for Tom wanting Sharon dead. But it doesn't stop there. Detectives dig a little deeper, and they discover something truly chilling: Sharon is not the first Mrs. Randolph to have met a tragic end.
"He's been married six times. Four of his wives are dead. You know, this isn't a coincidence," said Det. O'Kelley.
And Tom Randolph had taken out large life insurance policies on all of them.
"They were a way to generate money, and he did that for 30 years," said Clark County Deputy District Attorney David Stanton.
His fourth wife Francis suspiciously died in her hospital bed after undergoing successful heart surgery.
"According to family members, everything's fine. She's doing great," said Bluth.
Until Tom tells her daughter he wants to be alone with Francis.
"Thomas comes out some time later and tells her that her mom is dead, and she has no idea how that could have happened," said Bluth.
And her family never found out.
"There's no autopsy. She's cremated. He then sends her remains in pill bottles to her family members," said Bluth. "Prescription pill bottles."
Investigators learned a young Tom had allegedly tried to hire hit men to murder two other wives: Number one, Katherine, and number three, Gayna.
But Tom's offers had been declined by the prospective hit men, one of whom feared for his own life.
"He said 'Immediately after I shoot her you're gonna kill me,'" said Det. O'Kelley.
Just like police believe Tom killed Michael Miller after he'd killed Sharon.
"It certainly corroborated a lot of what we already knew about what happened to Sharon," said O'Kelley.
But it's the violent and suspicious death of wife number two, Becky, that astounded investigators.
"He shows up and Becky has shot herself in bed and is laying with the covers perfectly covered and one bullet hole to the head," said Bluth.
Her death was ruled a suicide, and Tom weeps all the way to the bank.
"Thomas Randolph had four insurance policies on her that we were able to find, totaling over half a million dollars," said O'Kelley.
Then almost two years later, yet another prospective hit man, Eric Tarantino, comes forward alleging Tom had approached him to kill second wife Becky, telling cops they even discussed ways it could be done.
"Car accident. Putting a cloth of cyanide over her face and having her pass out, slamming her head against a full bathtub, making it look like she slipped and fell and drowned. I mean, you name it," said Bluth.
This time, Tom's suddenly on his way to jail.
"He was taken into custody. He was charged with Becky's murder," said Bluth.
And while Tom's in custody awaiting trial, a jailhouse sting busts him trying to put a hit on Eric Tarantino, the man he tried to hire to kill his second wife. Prosecutors say it was a vain attempt to prevent Tarantino from testifying.
"Eric Tarantino goes in and tells the judge everything," said Bluth.
But the jury wasn't allowed to hear about the foiled hit on Tarantino. Tom was found not guilty of murdering Becky.
"They were going after the death penalty or nothing, and the jury said, 'We don't have enough to go with death,'" said O'Kelley.
And Tom also got off easy for allegedly plotting to kill Eric Tarantino, pleading guilty to a lesser charge of tampering with a witness.
"And he goes to prison for a short period of time," said Bluth.
But now, after uncovering the deadly history of his first five marriages, investigators realize they're not dealing with your average everyday killer.
"I think he's a monster," said Bluth. "There's no doubt in my mind he's a serial killer."
Investigators allege Tom Randolph is a serial killer who managed to get away with murder after murder for 30 years.
"We have six ex-wives, four hit men hired to kill those wives, two unexplained, very mysterious deaths, and in each of those situations he had life insurance policies totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars that he collected on these wives," said Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth.
And Randolph's collected a lot more if you count the fortunes prosecutors say he bled from his wives while they were still alive.
"Over his career as a wife-killer it's into several million dollars," said Clark County Deputy District Attorney David Stanton.
After an exhaustive investigation into the murder of Thomas Randolph's sixth wife Sharon, police get the green light to move in and arrest him. He was at his mother's house with an object in his hand. Officers don't know if it's a gun and continually demand he show his hands, but he doesn't, and they Taser him. An object in his hand was a glove. He's taken into custody.
But it is an incredible nine years before Tom Randolph makes his first trial appearance. His looks and demeanor shock those in the courthouse, including Eric Tarantino, a man he'd allegedly tried to hire to kill second wife Becky.
"The man who sits before you today isn't the man I dealt with 30 years ago," Tarantino told a reporter outside the courtroom.
Tom Randolph doesn't even look like the same man he was at the time of Sharon's death. At age 62, overweight, pale and with his long white hair tied in pigtails, he is barely recognizable.
"When I talked to the other attorneys they said 'All you're going to do is piss her off, you're going to make her look stupid, make her look stupid, whatever. And she's just gonna gold it against you.' Well you're not supposed to hold anything against me, 'cause you're fair. You're a good judge," Randolph said in court.
He also accuses his public defender of malpractice and the prosecutor of being corrupt in long rambling statements that don't seem to make any sense.
Now Thomas Randolph's life is on the line, facing the death penalty if he's found guilty of arranging the murder of his sixth wife Sharon, then executing Michael Miller, the hit man he's accused of hiring to shoot her to death in their Las Vegas home. Cops say Randolph killed Miller to keep him from coming back to testify against him like another hired hit man Eric Tarantino did.
The walk-through video, the dramatic re-enactment of the crime Randolph did for police cameras, shows him saying he fearlessly chased down Michael Miller and shot him dead in self-defense after Miller had murdered Sharon.
"He's literally tied to that version of events," said prosecutor Stanton. "His lawyers would have had a very difficult time to shift off of that. So his defense was he's the hero, not a killer."
And his attorney claims Randolph was arrested and charged on purely circumstantial evidence.
"The truth is that Thomas Randolph didn't do anything that would merit him being charged with killing his wife," his lawyer said in court.
Tom Randolph looks like a new man when he returns to court to answer first-degree murder charges that could send him to the death chamber. Now Randoph looks all business as his own life hangs in the balance, with police crime scene video once again coming back to haunt him.
Prosecutors use Randolph's own words, contradicted by a mass of forensic evidence, to blow holes in his story. Exposing all his incriminating bleeps, bloopers and blunders.
And a star witness, Eric Tarantino, tells the jury how Randolph vainly attempted to hire him to murder second wife Becky.
"When they get to learn about everybody, you can't imagine the shock on their faces when they found out about Kathy Randolph, about Gayna, about Francis. Their minds were blown. They were angry," said Jacqueline Bluth.
So were Sharon's friends and family members in the courtroom, some of whom remember warning her to beware of Thomas Randolph before she even married him.
Alice Wolf tells the court she confronted Randolph after Sharon's murder. And Sharon's daughter Colleen testifies she faced him down too.
"I said, 'What did you do to my mother?'" Colleen testified. "I just knew they fought all the time and there were guns in the house."
Colleen supports the prosecution's contention that Randolph killed Sharon to collect $360,000 in life insurance.
"It was just a few months into the relationship and he wanted to get life insurance policies and pick out 'his and hers' matching urns. Urns. Like what you put ashes in. The cremation," Colleen testified.
Prosecutors allege Randolph had killed previous wives for the same reason.
"'I want Tom to have everything,'" Bluth says, reading a will in court. Chief Deputy D.A. Jacqueline Bluth reads the jury the will left by wife number four, Francis, whom prosecutors say was also murdered for insurance money.
"'I have always wanted everything to go to Tom because he will take care of everything for me and Rachel like he always does,'" Bluth read in court.
At last it was time for the jury to decide whether Thomas Randolph was the hero or villain in Sharon's murder.
"We the jury in the above entitled case find the defendant Thomas William Randolph as follows: guilty of conspiracy to commit murder."
And in the killing of her hired assassin Michael Miller: "Guilty of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon."
Tom Randolph sits stone-faced, showing no emotion as 30 years of deadly deeds finally catch up with him.
"If we would not have convicted him, he would be on wife number seven or eight by now," said Jacqueline Bluth.
Now the jury must also decide if Randolph would have to pay for Sharon's life and any others he took with his own life. Before they deliver a verdict, Thomas Randolph's heartbroken mother takes the stand in a plea for mercy.
And Sharon's daughter Colleen tells the jury what Thomas Randolph took away from her.
"I was five months pregnant when Randolph killed my mom. And now my daughter Katie, who is almost nine, has never gotten the chance to meet her nana," Colleen said in court.
Finally, the jury makes its decision, and Tom Randolph is sentenced to death.
"I can't think of anybody that has deserved his role on death row more than Thomas Randolph," said prosecutor Stanton.
"And if the death penalty is for anybody, it's for Thomas Randolph," said Bluth.
Thomas Randolph's defense attorneys say they plan to appeal the case. His execution has been put on hold pending the outcome of that appeal.