The Trail Went Cold – Episode 118 – Tom Roche

September 13, 1991. Burbank, California. 37-year old Tom Roche makes plans to meet his spouse, Barbara Rondeau, for lunch, but never shows up. When Barbara returns to their apartment, she discovers that the front door is unlocked and Tom is missing. Six days later, Barbara receives an envelope containing some of Tom’s personal items, along with an anonymous confession letter to his murder. While there is some speculation that Tom could have staged his own disappearance, some of his skeletal remains and personal possessions are eventually discovered in a remote area 500 miles away. Tom’s cause of death is determined to be a gunshot wound, but the circumstances of how he wound up dead remain unclear. Was Tom Roche abducted and murdered? Was the anonymous confession letter actually written by his killer? We will explore a number of these unanswered questions as we cover a very baffling case on this week’s episode of “The Trail Went Cold”.

Additional Reading:

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

One thought on “The Trail Went Cold – Episode 118 – Tom Roche

  • This is too easy. His wife did it (or someone acting on her behalf.) Likely for insurance money. Maybe for another guy.

    1). The letter includes melodramatic tropes common at the time – Viet Nam vet with “confirmed kills,” Jeffrey Dahmer, uncontrollable lust to kill.

    2) The items included were intended to be bona fides of his death in order to make an insurance claim but they really prove nothing other than he made poor fashion choices and had to pay cash going forward.

    3). The cycle shop owner threw a wrench into the plan when he said he’d seen the guy on Saturday – he didn’t, but it was enough to make the bona fides even less valuable.

    4). The body was moved to another spot – maybe to increase the chance of it being found and the duffel bag, personal effects, and pill bottle were left in order to make identification easier. Or at least point authorities in the right direction and speed up the insurance pay out. This is why the letter – which should have included the correct location of the body – was wrong. The plan changed after it was received.

    5) The killer would not have shown up at his house if his plan was to lure him into a trap – lure totally means to bring someone to you, not the other way around. He risks exposure and would have a difficult time controlling a big guy on his home field.

    I know we are to believe the wife was torn up but it could have been very good acting – key to getting away with it. Let’s not forget there was a significant age difference here – did no one notice he was in his 20s and she in her mid-teens when they met?

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