John Joe Thomas, a 28-year-old Philadelphia-area man, spent nearly every day with his friend Murray Joseph Seidman, a 70-year-old man born with brain damage, who valued the friendship so much he made Thomas the executor and sole beneficiary of his will, and granted him power of attorney and put his name on his financial accounts. Then on Jan. 12, Thomas allegedly took a sock full of rocks and beat Seidman to death. All because, Thomas says, his friend made sexual advances toward him, and he knew the Bible says gays should be stoned.
“I stoned Murray with a rock in a sock,” Thomas confessed to police following his arrest, and after Murray’s body — while was dead for about a week — was found. The pair had met while Seidman, who surprised doctors by maintaining a pretty normal adult lifestyle despite his brain injuries, was working at a psychiatric hospital where Thomas was a patient.
When police arrived at Seidman’s apartment, Thomas was sitting in the hallway, crying. “I’m not going down there again. There is too much blood,” he allegedly said. Thomas claimed at the time that he had happened upon the killing while checking on his friend. He was later charged with indecent exposure, open lewdness, and disorderly conduct in an unrelated case. He has been in custody on those charges. Lansdowne Police Chief Daniel Kortan said the break in the murder investigation came when Thomas allegedly told an unnamed witness he had beaten an older man to death. “I killed a man,” Thomas allegedly told the witness. He is then said to have described how he put batteries and rocks in a sock and hit Seidman in the head at least 10 times.
As for his motive, Thomas pointed to the Old Testament in confessing to the crime on Wednesday. He told police the Bible says gays should be stoned to death “in certain situations” and that’s the “answer” he “received from his prayers was to put an end to the victim’s life.
He faces the death penalty if convicted.