Is Thomas Bruce the Delphi Bridge Guy?

This post examines the possible connections between a suspected Missouri murderer, Thomas Bruce, and the murders of two young girls in Indiana nearly three years prior.

Background

On Wednesday, November 21, 2018, Thomas Bruce of Imperial, Missouri was arrested and charged with 17 criminal counts including first-degree murder, sodomy, and kidnapping. His arrest ended a 2-day manhunt that had begun on Monday, November 19, 2018 when a man matching his description entered a St. Louis Catholic Supplies store and herded three female employees into a back room where he ordered them at gunpoint to strip naked and commit lewd sexual acts.

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When one of the women, Jamie Schmidt, 53-years old and a mother of three, refused to comply with his demands, Bruce allegedly shot her in the head. He then ordered the two remaining women to continue with meeting his demands for lewd sex acts. Jamie died later that day from her injuries at a local hospital. The attack was shocking in how brazen it was: committed in the middle of the day and, apparently, unplanned.

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Jamie Schmidt, 53

 

 



What We Know About The Suspect

Thomas Bruce is a 53-year old, Caucasian, male who does not appear to have any prior criminal record in Missouri other than a traffic ticket in 2001. Law enforcement is currently checking to see if he has warrants or arrests in other states. On his LinkedIn page, Bruce claims to have served in the Navy from 1983-1994. His most recent employment was with American Family Insurance and, prior to that, he held various odd jobs such as a brief 8-month position in customer service with the Jewish Center of Greater St. Louis and a managerial position with a Schnucks Store. He also spent some time as a pastor at the Cape County Jail.

Bruce registered a nonprofit church in 2003 with the Missouri Secretary of State; it was later dissolved in 2007. During those four years, Bruce was the pastor of Calvary Chapel of Cape Girardeau, one of a series of ministries that originally formed out of Costa Mesa, California. Bruce filed for bankruptcy in April 2017 and Wells Fargo foreclosed on his home in August 2017 (note: the Delphi murders occurred on February 13, 2017 and investigators have theorized the perpetrator may have been under personal stress at the time of the attacks). Bruce tweeted Laura Ingraham, a conservative American television and radio talk show host, on February 14, 2017, the day the Delphi girls’ bodies were found. In the tweet, he wrote “@IngrahamAngle favorite Valentine Day song ‘Just Between You & Me’ by April Wine. #bestrockballadever.”

Bruce also posted a cryptic Facebook photo of two nickels resting on a milk bottle cap. One nickel is face up, of THOMAS Jefferson, with the other in profile like a mugshot. The first nickel reads “Liberty, 2017.” It could mean nothing. It appears to be an inside joke amongst friends. But, it’s still worth mentioning. Embedded in the comments is a reference to the song “I Can’t Drive 55,” which includes the lyrics “I tried my best illegal move; Post my face: wanted dead or alive.”

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He has a wife and a son. Bruce was arrested at his trailer home in the Quail Run Mobile Home Park on Geranium Drive in Imperial, MO after a tip came in from someone anonymous in the public. Bruce had moved into the home with his wife earlier this year; I would be curious to know where they were living prior to that. It’s clear he has long-term roots in Missouri and originally hails from Michigan; investigators have said they are following up to see if he might have been in Indiana at the time of the Delphi murders. While no concrete links have been made between Bruce and Indiana, some online sleuths have posted unsubstantiated rumors that he has a cousin and/or brother in Indiana and that he would have had to travel through Indiana to get back to his home state of Michigan were he to go visit family there.

Bruce has a history of alcohol use and aggressive behavior. Many of his social media photos show him with an alcoholic beverage in hand and when he was first arrested, a local bartender and waitress recognized him as a frequent patron of their bar who had stopped by for service only a few hours before the Catholic Supply Store attack. In October 2018, only a month before the crimes, Bruce allegedly became involved in a road rage incident. According to the witness, who reported Bruce to authorities, Bruce was weaving in and out of traffic and riding other cars’ bumpers until he caused a fender bender with the witness.

The witness described Bruce as yelling and thumping on his chest, becoming even more aggressive when the police officer arrived on scene. Reportedly, Bruce became entitled and was shouting at the officer that he pays for the officer’s salary via his taxes and “you work for me.” The officer was able to de-escalate the situation and no charges were filed.


Similarities With The Delphi Murders

Some online sleuths have theorized that Thomas Bruce may the Bridge Guy, or “BG” — the primary suspect in the 2017 murders of two young girls in Delphi, Indiana. Go here for background on that case.

  • The suspect description is the most striking similarity between the two cases. In the Delphi case, the suspect was described as a Caucasian male, 5’6″ to 5’10”, weighing 180-220lbs, with reddish hair and eyes of an unknown color but likely not blue, is middle-aged and was wearing blue jeans, a blue jacket, a hoodie, and some kind of hat — either a hunting type cap or pageboy cap — at the time of the murders. The primary suspect in the St. Louis case, Bruce, was described as a “heavyset” Caucasian male, 5’9″ and 220lbs. At the time of the assaults, he was wearing a grey pageboy-style cap, a blue Carhartt jacket, a red/white/black plaid shirt, blue jeans, glasses, and a brown belt with a red or blue square in the clasp.
  • Bruce appears to have had reddish hair as recently as June 2018 — in more recent photos it appears more white and also more neatly shaved. He does not appear to have blue eyes but it is somewhat unclear. These details would match the Bridge Guy suspect as well as the body type and the shape of Bruce’s facial hair.
  • Both crimes occurred in the afternoon, on a Monday, just before a holiday, in broad daylight: St. Louis at 3:20pm and Delphi at approximately 2:30pm. Law enforcement noted how brazen the St. Louis crime was: to have occurred on one of the busiest streets of the city in the middle of the day
  • Both crimes involved multiple female victims: St. Louis involved 3 adult women and Delphi involved 2 young girls ages 14 and 13.
  • It has been theorized that both crimes involved the use of a firearm to control the multiple victims (this is an unconfirmed rumor in the Delphi case but is confirmed in the St. Louis case).
  • Both appear to be crimes of opportunity. In St. Louis, Bruce allegedly walked into the Catholic Supplies store, cased the area pretending to be a customer, before returning to his vehicle to obtain a gun. It is believed he did not know his victims. It is similarly believed that whomever killed Libby and Abby was unknown to them and happened upon on them on their hike.
  • Bruce’s alleged crimes in St. Louis were particularly brutal. After canvassing the store and telling the employees he intended to purchase something, he went to his car under the pretense of getting a credit card before returning with a gun instead. After shooting Jamie Schmidt in the head when she refused to comply with his orders, Bruce then ordered the other two women to continue performing lewd sex acts on him while Jamie lay dying nearby. Although details are scarce, rumors abound that the Delphi murders were particularly grotesque and disturbing. The original post on the Delphi murders includes some of those rumors.

Investigators are curious about a possible link between Thomas Bruce and the Delphi murders and are currently pursuing any leads related to that. The primary links appear to be Bruce’s outfit matching that of Bridge Guy’s and the control of multiple female victims in one crime scene, chosen for apparent opportunity. If Bruce is the Delphi murderer and was wearing his “murder” outfit again in St. Louis — that would indicate a certain twisted mind: one in which he wanted to taunt authorities and highly egotistical, believing he was untouchable.


Differences Between The Crimes

  • Bruce appears to have lived in Missouri since at least 2001 and his residency appears consistent. To have committed the Delphi murders, he would have traveled about 290 miles, or 4.5 hours, to commit the crime — why? Perhaps he and his wife had a brief stint out that way for work or something related but, at this time, there does not appear any evidence that Bruce was ever in Indiana.
  • Bruce assaulted and murdered adult women; the Delphi victims were young girls, barely pubescent.
  • The St. Louis crime occurred indoors in a large, public store. The Delphi murders occurred in a wooded park near hiking trails.
  • Bruce wears glasses; the Delphi murderer was not wearing glasses at the time of his crimes. Bruce did wear glasses during the St. Louis attack. Granted, Bruce is not wearing glasses in about half of his social media photos and may be wearing contacts or not need glasses all the time.
  • Upon his arrest, officers determined that Bruce had attempted to get rid of the very unique clothing posted in the suspect description (pageboy cap, blue jeans, blue Carhartt jacket, large belt). However, he did a lousy job of it and officers were able to recover the clothing. This would suggest Bruce is not the Delphi murderer as why would he not have disposed of his clothing after the Delphi murders?

Authorities are looking into whether Bruce was involved in other unsolved crimes within Missouri as well as in other states. Due to the especially vulgar nature of his crimes, he is eligible for the death penalty if found guilty. It is unknown at this time whether any DNA evidence has been extracted and whether Bruce has provided any type of confession or denies the allegations against him.


What Are Your Thoughts? Please Post Them In The Comments Below.


UPDATE: December 6, 2018

Thomas Bruce appeared in St. Louis County Circuit court yesterday. He has been charged with first-degree murder and multiple counts of sodomy, armed criminal actions, kidnapping, burglary, and tampering with evidence. Bruce is being held without bail and is being represented by a public defender and Bruce reportedly plans to plead ‘not guilty.’

Bruce was tracked down when a waitress at another establishment recalled someone matching the Catholic Supplies Store attacker having come into her restaurant shortly before the murder. He left a business card behind, which she retrieved from the trash and handed over to police. This behavior suggests a high degree of narcissism and a sense of invincibility — the belief that no one would catch him even if he left behind tangible clues.

I would be shocked if this was Bruce’s first crime. The level of depravity involved and brashness is astounding. He displays a combination of organization as well as disorganized behavior in regards to his alleged crimes. For instance, he had the wherewithal to manage 3 adult victims in a highly public location yet was disorganized enough to haphazardly bury the clothes he had been wearing in a plastic bag under his trailer home. Why not burn or better discard of them in a dumpster, etc? Was he trying to hang on to them for trophy purposes? Were there other items in the bag? Trophies from other crimes? Or was he really just that absent-minded or cocky to think he wouldn’t get caught?

 


UPDATE: December 12, 2018

Some online sleuths are theorizing that Bruce may, in fact, be the I-70 killer. This as-yet unidentified serial murderer is believed to have killed at least 6 store workers in the Midwest (Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas) during the spring of 1992. The killer is also suspected of shooting 3 store clerks in 1993 and 1994 in Texas; one of the victims survived. In general, the killer targeted specialty stores and used a .22 caliber gun to control his victims. Of those murdered, all were shot with a single bullet through the head, just like Jamie Schmidt in the Catholic Supplies murder. Most of the victims were petite brunette females; one was a male who may have been mistaken for female due to his ponytail. Of note, none of the victims were sexually-assaulted and only a small amount of cash was taken from any of the stores, leaving the motive a bit unclear.

The suspect in the I-70 shootings was described as a Caucasian male in his 20s-30s, 5’7″-5’9″ tall, had a thin build with “lazy eyelids” and sandy blonde or reddish hair. If the killer is still alive today, he would be in his late 40s to 50s.

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Image result for I-70 killer

 

49 thoughts on “Is Thomas Bruce the Delphi Bridge Guy?

    1. Believe it or not, some murderers actually would be that brazen! They would get off on taunting investigators like that. Kind of like, you idiots can’t catch me even when I’m wearing the “kill outfit.” I think it’s not just the outfit though….it’s the nature of the crime, the number of victims, the color and shape of his facial hair, the stomach paunch, etc. I’m not sure if Bruce is related to the Delphi case. I’d be curious to see what investigators determine.

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  1. Any info re Bruce being in IN at the time the murders occurred? Why would he be there, is he into old Rail Bridges, trails, geocaching a job he worked for Hartwig at the time. Did he catfish the Girls, Tinder? So many unanswered questions.

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    1. I haven’t confirmed this yet but it’s been reported that he lived in St. Louis County prior to his most recent location of Jefferson County and has reportedly lived all over the country. He has a brother in Indiana. He filed for bankruptcy just prior to the Delphi murders. He had a foreclosure just prior to the Catholic Supplies attacks.

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      1. Also, in terms of the WHY he might have been in IN, some have theorized he used the veil of working for the church to be a traveling pastor or might have passed through on his way home to MI. It’s a stretch, I think, but it’s something.

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      2. Has anyone taken a look at the brother that lives in Indiana? They could have similar appearance since they are brothers. Does the brother have any criminal history, could he have been in Delphi or know the area?

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      3. I don’t have confirmation that he has a brother in Indiana. It would be worth looking into. Word on the street is that he is not a suspect in the Delphi murders but IS a suspect in various other unsolved rapes and home invasions. His DNA was not in CODIS so authorities are working on connecting the dots.

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    1. My suspicion is that they don’t have usable DNA from Delphi — or at least not much of it. They can get DNA from Bruce but I’m not sure they have anything to compare it to. I have wondered if they got enough of a small amount of DNA from Delphi to do a basic phenotyping, similar to the one conducted for the Aurora Hammer Slayer, in which they were able to tell what the race of the suspect and the color of his eyes and hair, etc. I find it curious that Delphi investigators are so insistent that his eyes are “not blue” and his hair is “reddish.” That seems awfully specific for a brief eyewitness account and a lot to bank on, especially since redheads are only 2% of the population. It really narrows the suspect pool.

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  2. I enjoyed reading your article. Im going to say TB is not the Bride Guy. Bridge Guy is a planner, organized, on a mission, experienced. Then we have TB reckless, careless, unorganized, spur of the moment.

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  3. If he was in Indiana I wonder of he has family in the Delphi area…the trail isnt easy to find from what I understand….i live 19 miles away from Delphi and never heard of it until the murders and after that my daughter and I went to lay flowers at beginning of the trail and still couldnt find so what I’m saying ia most likely he either spent time working in Delphi or has family in the area

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      1. It’s very hidden I live 1 mile away from it and i sweat it had to have been a local because it’s so hard to get to. There’s only one road that goes out to it and I still forget how to get there sometimes.

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    1. I don’t know if the voice is a match. I haven’t heard anything about BG having a belt buckle. I’ve heard he may have had a “kill pack” or fanny pack type item around his waist that may have contained hunting tools, etc. This is unconfirmed and based on the grainy photos.

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  4. There should be a scientific way to check a voice recording of this guy against the tape of the guy who did the Delphi murders. I believe also there were hintsnofvhavinf some DNA evidence either found on either Annie or Libby. Can those DNA results be compared to this man’s.

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    1. I’m hoping they have DNA from Delphi but it seems doubtful. Or, if they do it may not be very much and might not all be usable. If they do have DNA and ran it through CODIS it would make sense that Bruce wouldn’t have shown up as he doesn’t have any known history.

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  5. he is the prime suspect in a home invasion in Hillsboro Missouri Jefferson County the same county where he lives and was arrested. The victim was a 70 year old female living alone whom recognized him from his picture on the news and called police

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    1. I just learned about this yesterday! Thank you so much! I will be adding another update to the post — he appears to have been quite the erratic, enraged individual — who was quickly losing impulse control over the fall months. Interesting….

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  6. I have always felt that the Delphi murderer is most likely someone local. The day Abby and Libby were killed would have been a school day…a Monday. It was a built in snow day that wasn’t used so the kids had the day off. I feel like only someone from that area would know that. If the sicko was specifically looking for children to target, why go out on a school day to find them unless he was aware there wasn’t going to be school that day.

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    1. I sometimes think he is local but more often think he is a transient trucker or plant worker who travels around the US for itinerant work. I tend to lean toward BG being a predator of opportunity — he chooses his victims more because they appear vulnerable and are available than because of specific features or characteristics such as age. I believe BG was prowling that area, and that he’s likely familiar with the area from prior visits there (childhood? prior work? family in the area?). I think he saw the girls and seized an opportunity. I don’t believe he was specifically looking for young females. I think he would have just as likely attacked an elderly woman or lone woman, etc.

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  7. They may not have much useable DNA from the scene of the crime in Delphi, however, they may be able to find DNA on his outfit from blood stains etc that could match the girls or other unsolved murders. He was keeping this outfit for a reason. There might be other memorabilia as well,
    He sounds like he wnjoye the challenge and cat and mouse game and might enjoy a bit of noteriety. They should devise and offer him a plea deal for each other crime for which he can tell them details that are not currently public info.

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  8. I’d be curious to hear what his voice sounds like and compare it to the “down the hill” voice that the girls recorded. Has anyone compared his voice yet?

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    1. Some people have tried to compare his voice from his arraignment to BG’s. It’s such a brief clip and many say it sounds similar but it’s hard to tell.

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  9. FOR ANYONE SERIOUSLY INTERESTED IN THE DELPHI CASE; I have worked on many cases, all of which have had video footage or a photograph to look at. I’ve worked on more then 50 cases overall and I’ve solved many of these cases by use of just video footage or even a single photograph. Over time I’ve become extremely adept at examining either video or photographic evidence. I can tell you that the suspect shown on the RR bridge does not exist. There’s no question, none whatsoever, that this is a manipulated figure, made up out of thin air, and doesn’t exist.
    I can say this after careful examination of this ‘person’. A sample of the anomalies; his right hand is a dark brown color, and it’s twice the size it should be. Take a look yourself. Also, the ‘too dark’ brown color of that hand is also seen on the edge of the jacket that his hand is next to. The dark brown color has bled onto the jacket. My hands don’t bleed color, do yours? Color also bleeds from his pants onto the background, but this is more difficult to see.
    His right pant leg below the knee has a ‘patch’ of about 18″ or so, and it’s not lined up properly with the pants material above it. This patched material is also a different shade of blue and clearly doesn’t match the ‘blue’ color of the pants. The entire face is ridiculous,…..it’s a bit hard to describe except for one aspect; the nose is rather large and round, and in the picture the tip of his nose is only an inch or so from his chin, with little or no sign that there’s a mouth between the two. Some old men with no teeth have such a circumstance as their face is collapsed without teeth in their mouth, but this isn’t the case here. There are more glaring problems with his ‘face’, but it’s not necessary to describe everything here.
    His lower legs near the ankle area are made up from old junk. I see a 4 to 6 inch piece of metal, like a piece of an old fashioned jack stands riser, it’s only an inch or so in width and blended in somehow. That piece is connected to the ‘patch’ of ‘ not lined up ‘ pants material I described earlier. This is clearly seen upon close inspection. A piece of scrap metal forming a portion of his right lower leg? Most of us have legs that don’t consist of a piece of scrap metal.
    These and more anomalies are evidence that this ‘person’ has been sloppily constructed from various parts. Another oddity is that we have 2 young girls, alone in such a place, and one of them feels okay with taking a strange man’s picture like this? I think most girls in that situation would be somewhat afraid, or at least cautious as he approached, instead of boldly snapping his picture.
    If anyone thinks the man in question resembles the suspect on the bridge,………realize that the artist’s rendition isn’t an actual picture or depiction . The artist did his/her best to make a drawing to match the man on the bridge, but there are liberties taken, and necessary, to portray the face of an actual person.

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      1. I agree, the photo released by the State Police is a still from a video which explains the blurriness. I can’t see the police releasing a phone picture a day or two after the murders.

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    1. What you say is his too dark, brown, right hand, is a fanny pack or something like it. You can see the top of his right hand sticking out of his pocket. Further, this is not a still photo; it is a “live” photo taken from a smart phone. Why would LE construct something 3D out of metal garbage, and expect us to believe it’s a real person? Wouldn’t it be much easier the photoshop in a man on the bridge?

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  10. Great article but it’s the only one I can find mentioning a Laura Ingraham tweet or facebook post by Thomas Bruce. Can you link your sources? If what you are saying is true, it can’t be coincidental that he sends the tweet the day after the Murder and names the band April Wine (Abigail Williams). Also not coincidental that he would use THOMAS Jefferson and Liberty 2017 (Liberty German).

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  11. I guess M. Sauer doesn’t have an answer for you Susan. I read that Bruce had visited his brother in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Is this guy still in prison? I really feel his voice does not sound like BG.

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