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Virginia Contractor Gets 3 Life Sentences For Murder, Rape and Abduction Of College Administrator

Thomas Edward Howard was convicted in 2021 for the brutal murder of Suzanne Fairman, an administrator for Virginia Commonwealth University.

By Constance Johnson
Suzanne Fairman Fb

A Virginia contractor was sentenced to three consecutive life terms on Monday for the murder, rape and abduction of college administrator who complained about the company’s work on her deck.

As previously reported by Oxygen.com, Thomas Edward Clark, 62, was convicted during a three-day trial in November of last year.

Investigators found Suzanne Fairman’s lifeless body, fully clothed, and submerged in her bathtub of her home in Richmond, Virginia on May 9, 2019.

Authorities said her pants were inside out and there were ligature marks on her wrists, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Fairman, 53, was an administrator for Virginia Commonwealth University.

Clark was part of a landscaping crew that worked on Fairman’s back deck. Investigators said he returned to do repairs about a week before her murder after she complained about shoddy work.

A police photo of Edward Clark

A bandana that Clark admitted to leaving behind was in the bathroom where police found Fairman’s body. Also found were a knife, a glove and charging cord that was cut.

Prosecutors said Clark held the knife to Fairman’s throat as he raped her. Fairman’s hands were tied with the phone cord.

Prosecutors said his DNA was found on the bloody knife and on Fairman’s body.

“It’ll be a lifetime of healing,” Suzanne’s son, Scott Fairman, said after the sentencing, according to WWBT. “It’s difficult to put that into words because there is so much pain and so much hurt, but at the same time, I’m there for justice; I’m here to see that the system works.”

He continued: “Through this whole thing, I haven’t shied away from anything that the prosecutors have told me; the police have told me. I wanted everything straightforward. Seeing him in the courtroom was just a part of that. Just facing the person who did this to us.”

“The most important part about my mother was that she was a loving, caring person, treated everybody with respect, and loved to help everybody,” Fairman said, according to the station. “Having her torn away from us and the world; it has impacted a lot of people.”

Clark has denied being responsible for Fairman’s murder.

“I know I’m not guilty of these charges, and I’ll take the right to remain silent,” he told the court on Monday.

His attorney, Ali Amirshahi, is planning to appeal, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Amirshahi told the newspaper that the defense did not have enough time to prepare for the testimony of an FBI agent, who disclosed cellphone records that put Clark near Fairman’s home.  

He also noted that one of the jurors lied under oath. Russell Osborne was not a Richmond resident and he served on a jury that convicted another individual the week before.

Clark has a history of violent offenses, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

More than 30 years ago, in 1988, Clark was sentenced to 15 years for rape. In 2005, he was sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty to attempted robbery.

Fairman told WWBT that Clark had an ankle monitor removed about a week before his mother’s murder.

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