OMAHA, Neb. – Nebraska's top prosecutor has announced a murder charge in the case of a missing Peru State College student who disappeared nearly seven years ago.
The Nebraska Attorney General's office said Tuesday in a news release that Joshua Keadle, 36, has been charged in Nemaha County with first-degree murder, accused of killing Tyler "Ty" Thomas.
Thomas was a 19-year-old freshman when she disappeared in the early morning hours of Dec. 3, 2010, after leaving a party near the southeast Nebraska campus. Authorities say Keadle, a fellow student, told them he and Thomas had sex in his vehicle that night, and Keadle later told investigators Thomas threatened to report he had raped her.
The state issued a death certificate for Thomas in 2013. The attorney general's office declined to comment on whether Thomas' remains or any new evidence had been found, and no supporting court documents outlining the state's case appeared in online court records Tuesday. The Nemaha County Attorney's office referred all questions to the state attorney general's office.
Keadle is currently serving 15 to 20 years for the 2008 rape of a 15-year-old Fremont girl.
A jury found him liable in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Thomas' and ordered him to pay $2.6 billion. It's unlikely Thomas' family will ever collect on the award, because Keadle doesn't have the assets to pay it.
A court dismissed the college from the lawsuit, which accused the school of failing to protect Thomas from harm, and the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld that ruling earlier this year.
In the weeks before Thomas' disappearance, Peru State's director of campus security recommended to administrators that Keadle be expelled, according to court documents, but other officials declined to do so. At the time, Keadle was a 29-year-old student who had been accused of sexually harassing two female students during his first weeks of living in a co-ed dorm.
Keadle has denied killing Thomas in past interviews with reporters following Thomas' disappearance, but has repeatedly declined to speak to The Associated Press from prison. He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.