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‘He Going to Be Hanging from the F*** Tree Outside’: Texas Dad Allegedly Killed 7-Year-Old, Stuffed Body in Washing Machine, Reported Boy Missing

Troy Khoeler (Harris County Sheriff's Office)

Troy Koehler (Harris County Sheriff’s Office)

A 42-year-old adoptive father in Texas was arrested for allegedly killing his 7-year-old son months after the child’s bloodied and bruised body was found stuffed inside of a washing machine in the home.

Jemaine Thomas was taken into custody on Tuesday and charged with one count of capital murder of a victim under 10 years old in the July death of young Troy Koehler, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show. The boy’s adoptive mother, 35-year-old Tiffany Thomas, was also arrested and charged with one count of injury to a child by omission.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Law&Crime, deputies with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in the early morning hours of July 28 were dispatched to a home located in the 4400 block of Rosegate Drive concerning a possible missing child.

Upon arriving at the scene, Jemaine allegedly told investigators that he discovered his son mising at approximately 4 a.m. that morning when he awoke to get ready for work. Jemaine allegedly said that he last saw the boy between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. the previous evening. Tiffany allegedly said that she’d last seen Troy when he was put to bed sometime before 9 p.m. the night before.

Deputies launched a search of the home and neighborhood that included the use of drones and dogs. But the search was called off after a deputy found Troy’s body at the bottom of the tub inside of a top-loading washing machine in the garage/utility room, authorities say.

“[The deputy] stated he yelled out to other deputies and tried to assess if [the child] was breathing,” the affidavit states. “While doing so, [the deputy] stated he was pushed out of the way by the Jemaine Thomas, who reached into the washing machine and pulled the child out of the washer. [The deputy] stated Jemaine Thomas was instructed to place [the boy] on the floor and CPR was immediately began by other deputies.”

An investigator on the scene provided a description of the child’s condition to the lead investigator, saying that the child’s arms and legs were warm but his torso was cold to the touch.

“Corporal Gonzales stated he observed blood around [the boy’s] nose and a large bump on his forehead, over the right eye,” the affidavit states. “Corporal Gonzales stated he observed [the boy’s] clothing to be damp and he noted the odor of urine emanating from the body. Finally, Corporal Gonzales stated [the boy’s] pants were pulled down to his knees, exposing his underwear and the presence of bruises to his upper legs.”

A medic at approximately 7:22 a.m. pronounced Troy dead on the scene.

Investigators say blood was visible at the base of the wash tub, indicating that the machine had not been turned on while the boy was inside. That notion was reinforced by the smell of urine that allegedly emanated from the boy’s body. Blood spatter was also allegedly found on a door frame and a cardboard box lid, both of which were in the kitchen.

A forensic examiner was dispatched to the scene to examine Troy’s body.

“The gross examination of the Complainant’s body revealed multiple bruises and patterned scars all over the body, along with facial injuries,” the affidavit states. “Blood was visible around the Complainant’s mouth and nares.”

An autopsy determined that Troy’s manner of death was a homicide caused by “homicidal violence.” The medical examiner told investigators that the child suffered from “asphyxiation and possible drowning.” Troy had also reportedly sustained new and old blunt force trauma injuries that were indicative of sustained physical abuse.

In a voluntary interview with investigators, Tiffany allegedly said that at approximately 1 a.m. that morning, Jemaine sent her a text stating that Troy was gone and the front door of the home was open. Tiffany said she remembered locking the doors before leaving for work at approximately 6:30 p.m. the previous evening.

Tiffany attempted to call Jemaine several times but said she was unable to get in touch with him until approximately 4 a.m. and got a ride home from a coworker and called 911.

Jemaine allegedly said that he got home from work at approximately 11 p.m. and yelled for Troy but got no answer. He said he sent his wife a text to see if she knew Troy’s whereabouts, then went to sleep until 4 a.m. and realized he’d missed several calls from his wife.

In a second interview with investigators, Jemaine allegedly said that on July 24, he’d disciplined Troy by striking him several times on the buttocks with an open hand.

“During this same episode, Jemaine Thomas stated one of his strikes ‘missed’ due to the Complainant jumping around, which caused him to strike the Complainant in the back. Jemaine Thomas stated he stopped the discipline after striking the Complainant’s in the back,” the affidavit states.

A review of the parents’ phones allegedly showed Tiffany and Jemaine sending multiple texts about harming Troy.

“Within these messages, Affiant observed a text message in which [Tiffany] told Jemaine Thomas that [Troy] told her the, truth about eating her oatmeal cream pies only because she ‘threatened to put him in the stove and turn it on.’ Further, Jemaine Thomas told [Tiffany], when he learned [Troy] had eaten his donut sticks, that ‘I need to get the (locks). I’m going to end up kill him. You going to come home and he going to be hanging from the fuck tree outside,'” the affidavit states. “[Tiffany] stated on July 7, 2022, ‘Fuck that. I’m for not doing shit for his birthday. I’m so sick of this boy. Like I’m really tired of him and don’t want him in this house no more.’ On July 25, 2022, the Defendant stated, ‘This boy got life fucked up. Why I come out the restroom from taking my shower and his funky ass in the living room watching TV.'”

While Jemaine Thomas is currently being held on $2 million bond, Tiffany Thomas remains being held on $150,000 bond, jail records show.

[Image via Harris County Sheriff’s Office]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.