• Man arrested over deaths near Wangaratta

    police house-(1)
    CRIME SCENE: Police outside the house where two bodies were found on Monday.

    HOMICIDE Squad detectives have arrested a 35-year-old man following the gruesome discovery of the bodies of a man and woman in a Great Alpine Road home, near Wangaratta, on Monday night.

    Police arrested the man at a property in Meredith, between Geelong and Ballarat, just before 7pm last night, and he remains in custody  but no charges have been laid.

    Police have not confirmed the identity of the couple, but it is believed to be that of the property owners  longtime residents Bill and Pauline Thomas.

    Their deaths, as a consequence of what detectives say was a ‘violent assault’ which they are treating as a double homicide, continues to shock the district.

    Aged in their 60s, the couple, whose three daughters and two sons live interstate, were well known and respected in the area.

    Mr Thomas had transported stock for fellow farmers for decades, and when he failed to turn up at Graham Norman’s Londrigan property at 11am Monday to work, Mr Norman left a message on the Thomas’s answering machine, hoping nothing too serious had happened.

    Mr Norman told the Wangaratta Chronicle yesterday of his shock, learning of the tragic loss of a friend whom he had known most of his life.

    Wangaratta stock agent Geoff Schreiber, and his wife Shane, were equally shocked and saddened yesterday by the loss of the couple they’d been friends with for 40 years.

    “He was a great man and he is always willing to help out,” Mr Schreiber said.

    “People often ran out of fuel on the Great Alpine Road and he always gave them a jerry can to help out.”

    Police found the deceased in the residence – next to the Hume Freeway southbound off-ramp – at around 10pm on Monday evening, after a family member asked officers to do a welfare check because they hadn’t received a birthday call, which was unusual.

    Detective Senior Sergeant Stephen McIntyre from the Homicide Squad said the bodies were discovered in what they “consider to be suspicious circumstances”.

    “There has been a violent assault take place,” he said, indicating they do not believe this to be a murder suicide.

    Police said there was no visible forced entry to the property and no items of property appear missing at this stage.

    “It is the scene of an assault and both people have significant injuries, but I can’t give you the exact cause of death at this point in time,” Det Sen Sgt McIntyre said.

    “It’s a complicated scene and I can’t go into what parts of the bodies were assaulted.”

    It’s possible a firearm was used during the incident, but Det Sen Sgt McIntyre said “until the post-mortem has been completed, I really can’t say what type of weapon was used”.

    Police found the deceased in the same room and believe the couple were killed some time in the last couple of days.

    They are continuing to appeal to anyone who may have visited thehome or the occupants to contact crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.

    This post is part of the thread: Thomas murders – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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