solved mysteries

The Murder Mystery of Thomas Datema: Assumed Identities, Unrequited Lust, Bizarre Confessions

The body of Thomas Datema, 74, was found in the trunk of a car in the parking lot of Arapahoe County jail in Colorado. He’s the man police say Robert L. Johnson, 40 (pictured), murdered before heading off for a day of casino gambling with his mother and then turning himself in on an unrelated failure-to-appear warrant a day later on Oct. 30. And that’s just where this murder mystery begins.

The sheriff’s department says Datema has been living under the name William J. Voth for at least the past 16 years; friends believed he was at least 80. He hadn’t spoken to his family in Michigan for over two decades. But a fingerprint check finds no fugitive record for Datema, leaving officials wondering why he was living under an assumed identity.

Johnson, who is gay and owns the car Datema’s body was found in, told police he was friends with Datema (though Johnson identified him as Voth) and shot him dead after calling him over with supposed car problems. Yes, the situation is as weird — and unexplained — as it sounds. Johnson told police Datema had been coming on to him for more than a year, though he refused the deceased’s sexual advances. And he was only arrested after telling staffers at the courthouse he needed to speak to somebody about the dead body in his trunk, which set off a bomb scare.

Johnson now faces first-degree murder charges. And a helluva lot of questions.

Man Kills 80-Year-Old Who Wanted To Be More Than Friends, Surrenders, Sets Off Bomb Scare