Man charged with raping child found dead with alleged victim’s relative, troopers say

Ohio State Highway Patrol found the bodies of 34-year-old Wesley Thomas and his 31-year-old...
Ohio State Highway Patrol found the bodies of 34-year-old Wesley Thomas and his 31-year-old girlfriend at the New Lyme Wildlife Area.(Ashtabula County Jail)
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 12:06 PM EDT

ASHTABULA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO/Gray News) – A child rape suspect was found dead along with a family member of the alleged victim Sunday morning.

The deaths are still being investigated, but Ohio State Highway Patrol said they believe it was a murder-suicide.

Troopers found the bodies of 34-year-old Wesley Thomas and his 31-year-old girlfriend at the New Lyme Wildlife Area in Ashtabula County around 8:20 a.m. Sunday.

Officials said the bodies were found with gunshot wounds on the ground near a vehicle, and a gun was found at the scene.

Troopers did not say who they believe fired the weapon.

Thomas had been indicted on four counts of felony rape June 9 for a case involving a child victim, who officials said is a relative of the woman.

Thomas pleaded not guilty and was released on a $75,000 bond Aug. 19. He was being tracked with a GPS ankle monitor and was not allowed to contact the woman or the child.

Ashtabula County Prosecutor Colleen O’Toole explained why someone accused of raping a child would be allowed out on bond.

“The issue of child sexual assault is always very complicated … because the child was removed from the home, and he had no access to the child, because he had no access to the child, he was considered according to all of our evidence-based practices as being a low risk to re-offend in the area of sexual assault, and he has no prior offenses that we have in our system,” O’Toole said of the decision.

WOIO discovered Thomas pleaded guilty to three counts of endangering the welfare of a child in Pennsylvania in 2013. The charges were listed as first-degree misdemeanors, according to the dockets.

“I do not necessarily know that this (murder-suicide) would’ve been prevented‚” O’Toole said.

O’Toole said the rape case against Thomas will be dismissed as soon as it is officially verified that he is dead.