Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

"The Company" Drug Smuggling Ring

Fast Friends and Fast Times

Andrew was born in 1944 to Carter and Peggy Thornton, an affluent Kentucky couple who owned the thriving Threave Main Stud horse breeding farm. The family wanted the best for Andrew and sent him to distinguished private schools, such as Sayre School in Lexington and Tennessee's Sewanee Military Academy, where he enrolled at the age of 14. While there, he befriended another pupil from an upper-middle-class Lexington family named Bradley Bryant with whom he would enjoy a friendship that would endure for years.

Seal of the Sewanee Military Academy
Seal of the Sewanee Military

After graduating, Thornton enlisted in the Army and trained as a paratrooper. He was awarded a Purple Heart for combat wounds sustained in the Dominican Republic. Thornton returned to Lexington in 1965 and resumed his close friendship with Bryant, who had previously joined the Marines and had also just returned home. The two were like brothers and inseparable. Dominick Dunne reported for truTV that at that time the men "were in their mid-twenties, newly married and full of ambition."

Dominick Dunne
Dominick Dunne

Thornton briefly worked at his parent's farm but quickly grew bored. He was an adrenalin junkie and preferred other more exciting activities, such as flying planes and parachuting. He then found a new career that proved just as thrilling: Thornton joined the Lexington Police Department as a narcotics officer in 1968. It was there that he met another young recruit named Henry Vance, who, like Thornton, came from a prominent Kentucky family.

Vance and Thornton hit it off instantly and became close friends. Together they worked in the city's undercover narcotics task force and enjoyed the rush of their new job and the power that came with it. Dunne reported, though, that it didn't take long for the two to discover that "there was even more of the power and adventure they craved on the other side of the law."


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