According to court documents Thomas Rigterink would attempt to rob Jeremy Jarvis and would stab the man repeatedly causing his death. When Allison Sousa attempted to intervene she would also be stabbed repeatedly causing her death
Thomas Rigterink would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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|RIGTERINK, THOMAS W
|Initial Receipt Date:
|Current Release Date:
Thomas Rigterink Case
Shortly after 3:00 p.m. on September 24, 2003, a male in his late twenties to early thirties, who fit the general description of Thomas Rigterink, attacked victim Jeremy Jarvis with a ten-to-eleven-inch knife. The attack began inside the warehouse residence of Jarvis, which was located in the fifth unit of the complex, and eventually moved outside. A male eyewitness testified that as he drove past this location, he slowed his vehicle and viewed two men—one, an apparent attacker, standing above another, an apparent victim. The victim was lying on the sidewalk immediately in front of one of the building units. The witness’s attention was drawn to the men because he saw red or crimson on the victim’s clothing. It appeared that the attacker was attempting to drag the victim into the last unit of the building. As the victim struggled to free himself, the attacker grabbed him and tore off his T-shirt. When the victim fled toward the first unit of the complex, the witness observed a significant amount of blood flowing from wounds on his chest. The witness observed the victim approach and open the door of the first unit, while the attacker—who was “about halfway down” the sidewalk at this point—remained in pursuit. According to the witness, the victim was a 5’8” male, in his late twenties to early thirties, between 150 and 200 pounds, with dark brown hair, and the attacker was a 6’0” to 6’3” male in his late 20s to early 30s, between 150 and 200 pounds, with dark brown hair. These general descriptions are consistent with the physical characteristics and appearance of Jarvis and defendant-appellant Rigterink on September 24, 2003. Further, the attacker wore a white T-shirt and dark-colored shorts, which is consistent with the clothing Rigterink later admitted that he wore on the afternoon of September 24.
At the time, units 1 and 2 of this dual-use warehouse complex served as the office of a construction business. A second victim, Allison Sousa, and a female eyewitness were both secretaries at this establishment, and each woman was working on Wednesday, September 24, 2003. That afternoon, Sousa and the female witness heard screaming outside of the construction office. They approached and opened the door of unit 1, and a dirty, sweaty, bloody, and shirtless male—who was later identified as the first victim, Jeremy Jarvis—entered the office and sat down in a chair near the door. The female eyewitness testified that Jarvis appeared to be experiencing serious blood loss from a wound on the right side of his chest. The witness remained composed at this point, but Sousa was “more frantic.” Sousa began to care for the man and to call 911. She instructed the female witness to go to the office kitchen in the back to obtain some towels to address the obvious injuries that Jarvis had sustained. The witness obeyed, and as she began to return to the front of unit 1, the witness heard the door slam. She continued forward toward a pass-through window located between the main-office and lobby areas. Through this window, the witness observed a second male aggressively approaching Sousa. At this point, Sousa was approximately six feet away from the witness on the other side of the window. The witness saw that Sousa was still attempting to call 911, and she also caught a glimpse of the second man’s profile and a side view of his body. At trial, she described him as a white male, early-to-late twenties, with dark hair, wearing a long white T-shirt and dark shorts, about 6’3”, 170 pounds, with an olive or tan complexion, and no facial hair or hair on his forearms. With the possible exception of the hairless forearms, this description is consistent with Thomas Rigterink’s appearance on September 24, 2003. The witness could not see whether the second man had anything in his hands, but she felt that he was “going after” Sousa and that he had seen her (the witness) approach the window. For that reason, the witness fled to an office located further toward the rear of unit 1. As the witness ran, she heard Sousa scream, “Don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me.” When the witness reached the rear office, she closed the door, locked the deadbolt, and dialed 911.
The PCSO received two 911 calls from this location on September 24, 2003. The dispatcher received Sousa’s call at 3:07:37 p.m. and received the female eyewitness’s call at 3:07:46 p.m. The recording of the first call reveals:
911 Operator: “911. What’s your emergency? Hello?”
911 Caller: “Oh, my God. Don’t—don’t hurt me. No․”
The dispatcher then heard “people ․ throwing something around” and afterward total silence. The line remained open for four minutes. During the second 911 call, the female witness told the dispatcher that an injured man entered her office and that another man was then in the process of breaking in and attempting to hurt her coworker, Allison Sousa. The caller further stated that at least one of the men had been stabbed and she feared that something terrible was happening to Sousa. The witness later requested an ambulance, and she provided a consistent description of the attacker: He was wearing a white T-shirt, dark shorts and was probably over six feet tall. The dispatcher remained on the line for several minutes with the witness until PCSO deputies arrived and the dispatcher confirmed their identities. At trial, the female eyewitness testified that during the 911 call, she heard scuffling, banging, and impacts against the walls within unit 1. She later heard someone rub against the walls and attempt to gain access to the rear office in which she was hiding. She only opened the door and emerged from the office once PCSO deputies had arrived and secured the crime scene. After exiting unit 1, the witness provided a contemporaneous statement to PCSO investigators in which she described the attacker as a white male between 6’0” and 6’2”, 160–170 pounds, tanned skin, black wavy hair, no facial hair, and wearing a light-colored T-shirt with dark shorts.
When PCSO personnel arrived, they secured the entire complex and discovered the lifeless bodies of Jarvis and Sousa in the rear-warehouse area of unit 1. PCSO crime-scene technicians (“CSTs”), and later three blood-spatter technicians from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (“FDLE”), processed the collective crime scene for the next several days. During the guilt and penalty phases of Thomas Rigterink’s subsequent trial for these murders, the medical examiners established that the attacker stabbed or cut Jarvis a total of twenty-two times and stabbed or cut Sousa a total of six times. Both victims had several injuries to their hands and limbs that were consistent with defensive wounds. Of the twenty-two wounds inflicted upon Jarvis, four were fatal: three to his right lung, which led to its eventual collapse and internal and external bleeding; and one to his abdomen, which penetrated his stomach and produced internal and external bleeding. Of the six wounds sustained by Sousa, two were fatal: one just above her left breast, which completely severed her pulmonary trunk, a major blood vessel; and one to her to abdomen, which struck and damaged her liver. Both of Sousa’s fatal wounds led to large amounts of internal bleeding.
Inside unit 1 (the office of Sousa’s employer), the CSTs encountered abundant evidence of a bloody, vicious attack. Both sides of the entry door to unit 1 were smeared with blood. There was a large pool of blood near the entrance, as if someone had been standing or sitting there while bleeding heavily, which is consistent with testimony that Jarvis sat in a chair near the entrance while Sousa attempted to dial 911. The CSTs also found a blood-smeared gumball dispenser in the lobby, which was overturned, separated from its base, and surrounded by apparent vomit. The heavy blood stains on the walls and doors of unit 1 were consistent with someone forcefully pushing another—who was bleeding profusely—against these surfaces. There were also numerous blood-spatter cast-off arcs, which were consistent with the attacker using a bloody knife to repeatedly strike the victims. Further, the pass-through window and the entire hallway leading through unit 1 were smeared with blood. In the main-office area, there was a large pool of blood under a desk as if one of the victims had sought refuge there. A phone on top of the desk was off the hook and dangling from its cord just above the floor. A veritable trail of blood continued down the hallway into the kitchen area, where large amounts of blood were smeared on a refrigerator, a trash bin, and some of the cabinets. Continuing along this trail of blood toward the rear of the unit, the door between the rear-office and warehouse areas had been damaged along with its locking mechanism and frame. This damage was consistent with someone attempting to charge or crash through the door to gain access to the rear-warehouse area of the construction office. Additionally, there were bloody, smeared palm prints on the door. The blood trail finally ended in the rear-warehouse area near the bodies of Jarvis and Sousa. The medical examiners established that the two victims were conscious for several minutes, were aware of their injuries and experienced intense pain, and eventually bled to death. The victims’ wounds were consistent with the attacker stabbing or cutting them with a ten- or eleven-inch blade.
Inside unit 5 (the residence of Jarvis), the CSTs discovered large blood smears on the wall adjacent to the entryway—consistent with the conclusion that a struggle occurred in that area. Blood also covered much of the flooring. Furniture, including a sofa, was overturned and in disarray. A trail of blood droplets led from unit 5 along the sidewalk to the entrance of unit 1. FDLE personnel developed two bloody latent fingerprints on the inside of the door to unit 5, which were later determined to match Thomas Rigterink’s relevant print patterns. Fingerprint analyst Patricia Newton testified that the photographs of these prints recorded their unique pattern and that the prints were consistent with the print-donor’s fingers having already been covered in blood and the donor then touching the door, rather than the surface of the door having blood on it with the print-donor merely touching the freshly deposited blood. At various locations hidden inside unit 5 (e.g., under the overturned sofa, under Jarvis’s mattress, and inside a laundry hamper), the CSTs found three to five pounds of marijuana with a street value of several thousand dollars. Additionally, the CSTs recovered $429 from Jarvis’s right-front pocket. Jarvis’s mobile phone was the final significant item of evidence that the PCSO discovered in unit 5. Detective Jerry Connolly, the lead detective on this case, and other PCSO investigators eventually used this phone, and associated phone records, to compile a list of Jarvis’s known associates, whom PCSO investigators viewed as the primary leads to solving this case.