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Larry and Stephanie Thomas had five children together and moved from their native New York to Las Vegas. When Stephanie fell for a Vegas bouncer, however, their family was destroyed and Larry ended up dead.
Larry Thomas was born in 1959 in New York, one of four boys. He had a knack for car repair and opened up his own gas station and garage on Long Island when he was 21. When he was 22, he began dating 19-year-old waitress Stephanie Peters. After dating for four years, they married in 1986.
The couple had five children together, and in the early 2000s, they relocated to Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, drawn to its lower cost of living. He became an auto technology instructor at the College of Southern Nevada while Stephanie picked up part-time work in Las Vegas. That’s where she met bouncer Shawn Pritchett.
Pritchett hired Stephanie to do the books for his home improvement business. Thanks to her managerial skills, the business took off and Pritchett asked Stephanie to be his business partner.
“Shawn and Stephanie’s painting business seemed to be on the rise. Larry was doing well enough at school where he actually had a series of promotions and was doing pretty well by himself. Things were going good for all the parties involved,” former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sergeant Randy Sutton told “Snapped,” airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
But then Stephanie’s brother William Peters contacted the Henderson police on April 21, 2006, to report that his 47-year-old brother-in-law was missing. No one had heard from him in over a week.
“All of my messages went to his voicemail and it was just not of Larry’s makeup not to answer the phone,” Peters told producers. “When I contacted my sister Stephanie she told me that Larry packed a bag and he left so I started to get a bad gut feeling.”
Police spoke to Stephanie the next day. She said she hadn’t seen her husband in nine days.
She claimed she last saw Larry on the morning of April 13. They had a big fight. That evening, while at her mother’s house with the kids, Larry called to complain that there was nothing to eat at home. When she returned later that night, the house was empty, she said.
“This wasn’t the first time Larry would leave in the middle of the night,” she told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper in 2008. “I figured it was a holiday weekend, and he was going to ruin the whole holiday because this is what he does.”
Stephanie claimed that Larry’s clothes, computer, and truck were missing from the home. She told detectives he may have left her for another woman.
“She said that she didn’t know who the woman was but she did know there was a phone number that Larry called very frequently,” Sutton told producers.
Investigators contacted the woman, who said she and Larry were just friends but that she was worried about him. She said Larry would never leave his children, and noted he often vented to her about troubles at home. He believed Stephanie was having an affair with Pritchett.
Peters confirmed the relationship and said it had been going on for two years, explaining Pritchett had lost his apartment and lived with the Thomases, at which point Larry discovered the affair.
“He noticed that Shawn and Stephanie seemed very close,” Henderson Police Detective Mike Condratovich told producers. “He also noticed that it seemed like Stephanie dressed a little more provocative than she had before now that Shawn was living in the house.”
In December 2005, Larry put his foot down and demanded Pritchett move out.
“Stephanie was absolutely livid that Larry actually asked for him to move out of the house. She was beside herself,” Peters told producers. “The way she reacted was not normal.”
Despite Stephanie’s affair, Larry wouldn’t give up on his marriage. Divorce wasn’t an option. He didn’t want his children to grow up without their father.
On May 3, 2006, detectives brought Stephanie and Shawn in for separate interviews. Stephanie claimed Pritchett was just her business partner and that they never had sex.
“The sex life that I had with Larry was very odd. He was violent and wanted me to do things that I didn’t want to do,” Stephanie said in her recorded interview, which was obtained by “Snapped.”
Stephanie said Larry was in a car accident in January 2004. Two girls died and he was charged with unsafe lane change. She claimed Larry asked Pritchett to move into the house in order to take care of his family while he was in jail. After his release, Larry became physically and sexually abusive, according to Stephanie, who alleged Larry even asked her to have sex with Pritchett.
In another interview room, Pritchett repeated Stephanie’s talking points, claiming Larry was an abusive husband and sexual deviant. “He’s a sick individual,” Pritchett said in his recorded interview, which was obtained by “Snapped.”
Both Stephanie and Pritchett claimed Larry’s disappearance might have something to do with his job. He had resigned from a supervisory position at the College of Southern Nevada following an audit. But police spoke to Larry’s co-workers and determined Stephanie and Pritchett’s conspiracy theories held little weight.
“One employee actually brings up the fact that Larry had told her that he felt that Shawn was trying to have him killed. Larry had a life insurance policy where Stephanie would have received $240,000 at the time of Larry’s death,” Condratovich told producers.
One month after Larry’s disappearance, a badly decomposed body was discovered by hikers in the desert under a pile of debris near Baker, California.
“The victim had multiple blunt force trauma injuries to his head as well as his body. The coroner believed that it was possible that he had crushing injuries consistent with being run over by a car,” Condratovich explained.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies identified the victim through fingerprints and his clothing. It was Larry Thomas.
“When we told Stephanie that we had located the body of her husband there was really no emotional response at all,” San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Detective Jon Billings told producers.
GPS phone data revealed Pritchett and Larry were at the Thomas house on the night of April 13. Pritchett’s phone then traveled to California, ultimately to a spot near where Larry's body was found, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper.
Stephanie’s phone data confirmed her alibi but showed she was in touch with Pritchett on the night of the murder. Moments after receiving a phone call from Larry around 10 p.m., Stephanie called Pritchett. An hour later, Pritchett called Stephanie, at which point she drove home with the kids.
In October 2007, investigators spoke to Stephanie’s sister, Jennifer McCue. She claimed Pritchett had confessed to the murder in detail to her husband, Albert McCue.
Pritchett had attacked Thomas in his home, viciously beating him with a baseball bat, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. After loading Larry into his own truck, Pritchett drove to California, then ran over Larry to make sure he was dead. After disposing of the body, he dismantled the truck and sold off the parts.
Albert McCue denied his wife’s statements, but investigators executed a search warrant at his home and found a steering column belonging to Larry’s truck. Albert McCue was arrested for receiving stolen goods.
Detectives also learned Pritchett pawned three rings on April 16, 2005, three days after the murder. Photographs revealed they belonged to Larry Thomas.
Shawn Pritchett was arrested on Feb. 11, 2008 and charged with murder, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
When detectives tried to pressure Stephanie into making a statement against Pritchett, she claimed she had no knowledge of the murder.
“She changed her story from earlier interviews with her. She actually said, you know, Larry was never abusive,” Condratovich said.
But following Pritchett’s arrest, Albert McCue began cooperating with investigators.
“He not only corroborates the statements that his wife had told police about Shawn confessing to him, he also related to investigators that it was Larry’s wife, Stephanie, that was the driving force behind the murder,” Sutton explained.
Stephanie Thomas was arrested on March 31, 2008, and charged with murder. In August 2010, she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She was released from prison in 2018.
In the fall of 2010, Shawn Pritchett was found guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit murder for the slaying of Larry Thomas. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
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