The adoptive parents of a 7-year-old Texas boy who went missing and was later discovered dead inside a washing machine have been charged in his death. They are accused of sending graphic text messages to each other threatening to kill the child.
Jermaine Thomas, 42, and Tiffany Thomas, 35, have been charged in the death of Troy Koehler, their adopted son, who was discovered dead in a washing machine in July after going missing, according to KRIV-TV.
Jermaine Thomas was charged with capital murder, and Tiffany Thomas was charged with child endangerment by omission.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Koehler’s home after he was reported missing by the Thomas’, who claimed they had not seen him since the night before.
Authorities used a drone and canine assistance to search the house for over an hour. A deputy conducting a second search discovered the young boy’s body at the bottom of a top-loading washing machine in the utility room after looking through the lid.
According to court documents, Jermaine Thomas rushed over to the washing machine and pulled the boy out while the deputy yelled for help and checked to see if Koehler was breathing. Deputies instructed Thomas to place Koehler on the floor where they attempted CPR while detaining and removing both parents from the scene.
One deputy observed that Koehler’s clothes were damp and smelled of urine. Additionally, the boy’s pants were pulled down to his knees and visible bruising to his upper legs could be seen.
Authorities determined that it was unlikely Koehler had been inside the machine during a wash cycle and a medical examiner concluded he had suffered new and previous injuries. The incident was then ruled a homicide.
It was later learned that Child Protective Services had been alerted by Koehler’s school multiple times due to injuries witnessed on his body including black eyes and facial bruising.
Authorities also found text messages between the parents showing animosity toward the young boy, including a message threatening to “put him in the stove and turn it on” if he did not confess to eating cookies without permission.
“I need to get the (locks),” Jermaine Thomas allegedly texted Tiffany Thomas. “I’m going to end up kill him. You going to come home and he going to be hang from the f— tree outside.”
Tiffany Thomas allegedly texted, “F—- that I’m for not doing s—- for his birthday.” “I’m sick of this kid. I’m sick of him and don’t want him in this house any longer.”
Tiffany Thomas allegedly said in a text three days before Koehler went missing, “This kid’s life has been f—-ed up. Why am I exiting the restroom after taking a shower, and his kooky a— is in the living room watching TV?”
According to KTRK-TV, The Thomas’ adopted Koehler from foster care in 2019.
Jermaine Thomas’ bond was set at $2 million, and Tiffany Thomas’ bond was set at $150,000, according to court records.