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Catherine THOMPSON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Murder-for-hire - To collect insurance money
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 14, 1990
Date of arrest: August 29, 1990
Date of birth: November 24, 1947
Victim profile: Melvin Thompson, 49 (her husband)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Westwood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on June 10, 1993

Thompson, Catherine:  Black; age 42 at crime; murder (she hired killer) of her husband in Westwood (Los Angeles County) on 6-14-1990; sentenced on 6-10-1993.


Widow Sentenced to Death in Murder of Husband

Los Angeles Times

June 11, 1993

A judge on Thursday sentenced a Westwood auto shop owner's widow to death for contracting her husband's murder so that she could collect on a $400,000 life insurance policy.

Catherine Thompson showed no reaction as Superior Court Judge George Trammell told her he could think of no good reason to reconsider a jury's recommendation of death. Melvin Thompson was gunned down in 1990 in the bathroom of Kayser's Service, the auto shop he had owned for 20 years on Santa Monica Boulevard near Greenfield Avenue.

Last September, a jury recommended that Thompson die for masterminding the murder. After months of legal maneuverings to persuade the judge to overturn the sentence, Thompson was ordered to Death Row.

"He loved her. He trusted her," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Katherine Mader. "He never had a clue that she wanted him dead.


Wife, 3 Others Arrested in June 'Rolex' Slaying of Auto Shop Owner

By Ashley Dunn - Los Angeles Times

August 30, 1990

The wife of a transmission shop owner who was originally believed to have been killed by a Rolex watch robber was arrested Wednesday, along with three members of a Sylmar family, in an alleged scheme to murder the shop owner for his $400,000 life insurance policy.

Catherine Thompson, whose husband, Melvin, was gunned down in June, was picked up at her West San Fernando Valley apartment Wednesday on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. Prosecutors added to the charge a so-called "special circumstance" of murder for financial gain, a circumstance that can carry the death penalty upon conviction.

Police also arrested the suspected hit man, Phillip Conrad Sanders, along with his wife, Carolyn, and her son, Robert Lewis Jones, on the same charges.

In an unrelated development, a fourth member of the Sanders family, Phillip Sanders' mother, Isabelle, was arrested Wednesday on charges of theft by false pretenses in a $98,000 fraudulent real estate deal, said district attorney's office spokesperson Sandi Gibbons.

"It was not good day for the Sanders family," Gibbons said.

Melvin Thompson, 49, was gunned down just before 7 p.m. on June 14 as he was about to close his auto transmission service shop on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Investigators said at the time that a gunman had entered the shop, stole an undetermined amount of cash and the Rolex watch on Thompson's wrist. Thompson, who was alone, was shot several times.

Catherine, Thompson's wife of 10 years, told investigators that she had just arrived at the shop to pick up her husband when she heard shooting.

"I heard what I thought was backfire," she said at the time. Someone told her that a gunman was inside and she fled, calling 911 from a pay phone.

At first, police believed the shooting was connected with the series of Rolex watch robberies then taking place in Los Angeles. The same week that Thompson was killed, a 42-year-old man was shot in his newly purchased Beverly Hills home by a gunman who struggled with him over the expensive Swiss timepiece.

But police soon began suspecting that Catherine Thompson was involved in the crime.

The day after the shooting, through a tip from a witness who wrote down the license plate number of the getaway car, police had arrested Phillip Conrad Sanders.

Police then discovered that Sanders and Catherine Thompson had both taken part in an alleged shady real estate deal several months earlier. Catherine Thompson was questioned by police but later released.

Her attorney at the time, Alex Kessel, denied she was involved in her husband's death. "This ordeal is simply devastating to Catherine," Kessel said in June. "She had absolutely nothing to do with his death . . . they'll never make a case against her

Deputy Dist. Atty. Katherine Mader, who is prosecuting the case, said Carolyn Sanders was involved in planning the murder, and her son, Robert Lewis Jones, drove the getaway car.

Mader said the arrests came in part after a recent police search of the Thompson home found the supposedly stolen Rolex there.


Catherine Thompson


Catherine Thompson


Catherine Thompson



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