Outdoorsman Sniper Thomas Dillon Sent A Horrifying Letter To The Mother Of One Of His Victims

Between 1989 and 1992, Thomas Dillon murdered five men at random in rural Ohio, killing them each with a high-powered rifle, per CBS News. Dillon first killed 35-year-old Donald Welling. AP News notes that Dillon shot Welling while he was jogging. Next, in 1990, Dillon murdered 21-year-old Jamie Paxton, a steel mill worker, according to CNN, who reported before his name was known, Dillon was dubbed the "outdoorsman sniper." Paxton was hunting and died after being shot in his chest, knees, and backside. Dillon subsequently killed Claude Hawkins and Keith Loring. After Loring's death, investigators and the FBI concluded that the four unsolved murders had to be connected; they were too similar.

Meanwhile, The Times Leader reports that Paxton's mother, Jean Paxton, grieved her son and searched for answers behind his senseless killing. As a result, she began writing letters for "Someone out there (who) knows this letter is directed to them." Jean addressed the killer and told him that his hands had changed for the worse. She wrote, "they are the hands of a murderer. You can't wash Jamie's blood from them. It will be there till the day you die." Jean published some of these letters in The Times Leader. In November 1991, nearly a year after Jamie's death, Dillon anonymously replied to Jean's words.

Thomas Dillon had no regrets for his actions

In his letter to Jean Paxton, Thomas Dillon divulged his reasoning behind killing Jamie Paxton, reports CBS News. He wrote, "I am the murderer of Jamie Paxton ... I felt the Paxton family should know the details of what happened. I thought no more of shooting Paxton than shooting a bottle at the dump." Dillon continued (via The Sydney Morning Herald), "Jamie Paxton was a complete stranger to me. I never saw him before in my life, and he never said a word to me that Saturday." He added, "He was killed because of an irresistible compulsion that has taken over my life."

Per The Times Leader, Dillon knew nothing would stop him from killing Jamie or anyone else. He said, "I knew when I left my house that day that someone would die by my hand. I just didn't know who or where." He also blamed alcohol and noted, "I was very drunk, and a voice inside of my head said, 'Do it.'" Oxygen reports that investigators knew whoever sent the letter had killed Jamie; they had not publicly disclosed specifics discussed. This prompted the FBI to analyze the letter and create a profile of the killer.

Oxygen writes that the FBI deduced that Jamie's killer was a white man who was 30 or more and had "at least a high school education or higher." Shortly after, Thomas Dillon killed his fifth and final victim, Gary Bradley.

His letter led to his demise

Upon Gary Bradley's death, Oxygen states that the authorities asked the public to help identify the killer. Thomas Dillon's friend, Richard Fry, contacted investigators and told them about his suspicions about Dillon. Prosecutor Michael Miller explained (via CBS News), "He had read about the killings. He knew that Dillon liked to drive around those areas [on] weekends and so forth in his car. He knew Dillon had weapons. He knew Dillon had shot and killed animals. He felt that Dillon was the type of person who could do something like this." Likewise, Dillon fit the FBI's profile and had been off work the day of the five murders.

Per Oxygen, the FBI began to surveil Dillon and eventually arrested him on a weapons charge. Investigators searched his home and hoped to find the firearms he used to kill his victims. They, however, came up empty. Once again, the authorities turned to the public and asked if anyone had purchased a gun from Dillon. One man came forward, and CBS News reports that investigators tested the weapon, and it came back as a match for a gun used in two of the killings. Cornered, Miller offered Dillon a plea deal. If he confessed to the killings and pled guilty, he could avoid the death penalty.

Thomas Dillon told investigators he had remorse

CBS News reports that Dillon spoke with investigators about the letter he sent Jamie Paxton's family. He alleged that he had regrets about killing the 21-year-old. Dillon said, "I felt bad about the kid, you know, I didn't know he was that young. I couldn't see how old he was from a distance. I thought he was 30, 35. I didn't know he was that young ... blew that kid away you know, he had his whole life ahead of him and I blew him away, you know, I felt sorry for him." Experts disagree and believe he did this to mock the investigation.

Jamie's mother further revealed to CNN, "He did go to the site where Jamie — where he killed Jamie one time and he kicked over some crosses and tore out a tree and he was angered by something he had read in the newspaper about the closeness of our family and the love that we still held even though he tried to destroy our family." According to The Times Leader, Thomas Dillon received five consecutive life terms after pleading guilty to five counts of aggravated murder in 1993. He died in prison from an undisclosed illness in October 2011 at 61.