Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Story of Colin and JoAnn Thatcher


On May 17, 1981, shortly after 10 in the evening JoAnn was in the kitchen removing the dishes from her dishwasher at her home on Redland Avenue. Suddenly, she heard a loud crack before feeling a pressure that knocked her to the floor. In her shock JoAnn believed that the dishwasher must have exploded. She was not aware that in actuality she was just shot and the bullet had torn through her shoulder. She screamed for her husband who immediately responded to her pleas for help. When he arrived, he noticed that she was bleeding and in a state of panic. He contacted an ambulance and JoAnn was rushed to a local hospital.

JoAnn was hospitalized for nearly three weeks. While there she underwent surgery to repair the damage to her shoulder and was issued a steel brace to wear temporarily. She and Tony were terrified by the threat to her life and for protection bodyguards were hired to keep guard of JoAnns hospital room. They both knew that Colin was behind the shooting, yet they never pressed charges against him.

During JoAnns stay in the hospital Colin paid a visit to Tony at his home in order to discuss the property settlement. Tony confronted Colin about what had happened, but Colin just looked at him blankly. While the men discussed the settlement, Colin became enraged at Tony for merely asking for the amount the court had initially ordered him to pay. He threatened the already terrified Tony, stating that he and JoAnn should take further steps to protect themselves.

Several days following the shooting, Wilson and Wilson stated that Colin openly bragged to Lynne about his shooting of JoAnn. He told her that he was driven to her house in a rented car by an unnamed acquaintance, put on a wig and aimed at JoAnn through her sliding glass windows. To her surprise, he seemed to be rather pleased with his accomplishment and gloated over the fact that he scared Tony and JoAnn beyond measure. Intriguingly, Lynne never approached the authorities with the critical confession made by Thatcher. She would later confess that she didnt contact the authorities because she feared for her own life if she revealed the facts of the shooting.    

JoAnn and Tony feared for their lives. They both decided to make a quick settlement so that they no longer had to deal with Colin concerning financial matters. The court ordered Colin to pay $500,000, substantially less than the original court order. The payments were divided into five segments and spread out over the subsequent five years, with the exception of $150,000 which was to be paid immediately.

According to Bird, there was a clause in the contract that JoAnn agreed to that stated if either party were to die during the interim the monies were due, then the next payment would be deferred for one year. The financial matters were finally settled, yet it did not stop Colin from continuing his act of revenge against JoAnn. In fact, Colins wrath was to get considerably worse.

Distressed at her sons lack of interest in her, JoAnn decided to give up the custody battle for Regan in July 1981. He already seemed confused enough and she did not want to make matters worse for him. Losing her two oldest children was traumatic for JoAnn, however she had to continue with her life. After all, she still had Stephanie and she was determined to provide her with the stability that Colin refused the other two boys.

In January 1982, Colin returned to Palm Springs and visited the Frontier Gun Shop owned by Ron Williams. Colin obtained information about a variety of weapons from the owner, while at the shop. He then purchased a Ruger .357 Magnum handgun for $247 and 100 rounds of Winchester Western .38-special bullets. Later that year Colin took the gun and ammunition to Moose Jaw with the intention of shooting JoAnn again. His hopes were set on not wounding her this time, but in fact killing her. 

Despite the circulating rumors about Colins involvement in the shooting, he won an election to the cabinet and was sworn in as Minister of Energy and Mines in May 1982. It was a powerful position that considerably elevated his social status within the community. The new job also enhanced Colins already inflated ego and feeling of invincibility. 

On January 17, 1983, Colin was forced to resign from his new position due to public criticism, insubordination and his lawless behavior. According to Wilson and Wilson, Colin broke down in tears at the loss of his job. To make matters worse, at the time of his resignation, Colins financial situation was in a tumultuous state, due to legal bills and extravagant spending. The bank was set to foreclose on his property. For the first time on his life, Colin was at his most vulnerable financially, socially and emotionally. Following his resignation he would prove to be even more dangerous than ever before because he had nothing more to lose. Four days later JoAnn would be found bludgeoned and shot to death in the garage of her Redland Avenue home.

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