A Chesapeake couple who died in a murder-suicide this week were going through a separation and had been living apart since earlier this year, a family member said.
Police say Henry Thomas shot and killed his wife, 48-year-old Vikki Thomas, Tuesday afternoon and then fled to another nearby house, where he killed himself as officers were arriving to arrest him about six hours later.
In a phone interview Thursday, Hank Thomas said his father and stepmother were both retired from the Navy and had been married for nearly three decades. He said his dad was “different” after he came home from the Gulf War in the 1990s, and he believes his dad may have had untreated post-traumatic stress disorder.
Knowing how prideful his father was, Hank said it’s unlikely his dad would have sought treatment.
“I always knew he wasn’t the same guy when he came back,” Hank said.
Around 2 p.m. Tuesday, police were called to a corner house in the 400 block of Rutgers Ave. in South Norfolk, where they found Vikki’s body.
About 8 p.m., officers went to another house in the 2800 block of Southport Ave., a half mile away. They tried to contact Henry there, but police heard a gunshot inside the house. The 58-year-old was pronounced dead at a hospital.
City property records show the Thomases owned both homes, the one on Southport since 1995 and the Rutgers Avenue house since 2009. Vikki has been listed as the sole owner of the Rutgers property since 2014.
Hank said his father and stepmother had been living apart for 10 or 11 months, one in each of the houses. At the time of the shooting, they were in the process of switching homes: Vikki was moving into the Rutgers house, Henry into the one on Southport, Hank said.
He said Vikki kept a journal, and after reading through some excerpts after her death, Hank said he could see there had been strain in the relationship over time. He said he didn’t know of any ongoing domestic violence and hadn’t found evidence of past physical violence.
In addition to Hank, the Thomases also are survived by a daughter.
Vikki retired from the military a few years ago and worked part-time as a Zumba fitness coach, Hank said. She was always striving to better herself, he said, whether it was rising through the Navy ranks or earning numerous master’s degrees. Vikki was “God-first oriented” and cared for both her extended family and her church family, Hank said.
“She had the best spirit of anyone I’ve known,” he said.
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