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Couple Charged In Connection With Adopted Son's Murder Months After Body Found In Washing Machine

A postmortem examination revealed that asphyxiation, blunt force trauma and possible drowning were factors in the death of 7-year-old Troy Koehler. 

By Jax Miller
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A man and woman are under arrest for the murder of a 7-year-old boy whose body was discovered in a washing machine.

Jemaine and Tiffany Thomas, ages 42 and 35, are charged in connection with the murder of Troy Koehler, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced Tuesday on his Twitter page. Troy — believed to be the accused couple’s adopted child — was initially reported missing on July 28 before deputies found him in a washing machine at their Spring, Texas home —  about 20 miles north of Houston.

Following an “extensive investigation,” Jemaine was charged with capital murder, while Tiffany was charged with injury to a child by omission, Gonzalez said in his announcement.

“Forensic sciences conducted an autopsy on Troy Koehler,” Gonzalez stated. “The autopsy revealed that Troy suffered new and previous injuries.”

The couple reported Troy missing on July 28 at around 5:20 a.m., claiming they hadn’t been able to account for the boy’s whereabouts since 4:00 a.m., according to NBC Houston affiliate KPRC-TV.

RELATED: North Carolina Parents Arrested After 9-Year-Old Boy Found In Dog Cage Outside Home

Jemaine further told authorities that he returned from work shortly before midnight the previous evening, finding the home unlocked, according to CBS affiliate KHOU.

“It’s just that I came home, I was fixin’ to walk in the door like right now. I don’t have my keys, but I put my keys to the door handle, and then it just open[ed],” said Jemaine. “Anything else after that, I don’t remember."

Police handouts of Tiffany and Jemaine Thomas

Law enforcement officials spent hours searching the Birnam Wood subdivision before eventually finding Troy’s body in a top-load washing machine located inside the garage, according to the Houston Chronicle. The boy was fully clothed.

A post-mortem examination cited a number of factors leading to the child’s death, including asphyxiation, blunt force trauma and possible drowning, according to court records obtained by KPRC-TV. Blood was also observed both on the washing machine and elsewhere at the Rosegate Drive residence.

Both parents were detained and questioned, though no charges were filed at the time, according to KHOU.

Recently revealed court documents note disturbing text messages by Jemaine, showing he allegedly grew angry when he learned Troy had eaten his doughnut sticks, according to the NBC affiliate.

“I need to get the [locks],” Jemaine allegedly texted. “I’m going to end up killing him.”

Records also state that one or both parents allegedly threatened to force the boy inside an oven until he confessed to eating Tiffany’s oatmeal pies.

Texas Child Protective Services confirmed with ABC Houston affiliate KTRK that the married couple adopted Troy in 2019 and that there were dealings in the past, though it was unclear why.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas were booked into the Harris County jail, where a judge set Jemaine’s bond at $2 million and Tiffany’s bond at $150,000, officials told KPRC-TV. Tiffany was reportedly unable to appear in court on account of “mental health reasons.”

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