The man behind one of New York’s most infamous mass shootings – dubbed the ‘Palm Sunday Massacre’ – who killed eight children and two young mothers in 1984 has been quietly released from prison.
Ten innocent victims were discovered in the apartment, shot dead in their chairs or couches in an East New York apartment as a result of an argument between their killer Christopher Thomas and the home’s owner, convicted cocaine dealer Enrique Bermudez.
There was a sole survivor of the shooting, a toddler who was found crying and covered in blood. One of the first police officers to the scene cared for the child that night and helped raise her. In January after serving 32 years of his 50-year maximum sentence Thomas was released, and people are not happy.
Retired NYPD Lt. Herbert Hohmann, who led the investigation and testified against Thomas told the New York Post:
He doesn’t deserve to be on the street. He killed poor, innocent children.
Now 68 years old, Thomas is believed to be living in Queens after being released from Shawangunk Correctional Facility on January 5 after serving two-thirds of his sentence and fulfilling other criteria including good behaviour, a Department of Corrections spokesman said.
Joanne Jaffe, the officer who took care of the surviving child and who rose to become the highest-ranking female officer in the NYPD told the New York Times: “I hope he is rehabilitated and doesn’t hurt anyone else.”
Thomas had been sentenced to serve ten consecutive manslaughter sentences for a total of 83 to 250 years, a sentence the judge at the time declared he wish serve ‘every single day, hour and minute’ behind bars.
The jurors, according to a Times article from 1985, said they opted for manslaughter because ‘they were convinced that Mr. Thomas was acting under extreme emotional disturbance because of a cocaine habit’.
State law capped Thomas’s sentence to 50 years and with time off for good behaviour he was eligible to be released after serving two-thirds.
The Department of Corrections spokesman said:
The parole board did not let him out.
He had five appearances before the parole board and was denied every time. He doesn’t need board approval because he served the two-thirds.
Investigators could not find a motive behind the killings, the victims included Bermudez’s 24-year old, six-months-pregnant girlfriend, Virginia Lopez, another woman and children aged 3 to 14.
Thomas was a customer of Bermudez and police believed Thomas was settling an old drug score with Bermudez.
Detectives discovered the television on, the young victims sat down frozen in the spot where Thomas shot them at close range.
Retired NYPD Detective Bo Dietl told The Post in 2009:
One child was eating chocolate pudding, sitting on the couch in a suspended state, with the spoon still in her hand, dead.
There were victims sitting around the living room with fear on their faces after being systematically shot
This man, Christopher Thomas, should NEVER have been released. He killed 10 people, eight of them were children! He also tried to rape his mother. https://t.co/4exijiGfRv
— Sharon Carbine (@SharonCarbine) March 31, 2018
Congratulations on the release of child killer Christopher Thomas!!! New York has hit an all time low!!! Killed 8 kids and 2 mothers and walking free!!! Liberals suck!!!
— Mr. Roboto (@trapac94) March 31, 2018
Bermudez wasn’t at home at the time of the massacre. Christina Rivera, the small child discovered at the scene of the crime was dubbed ‘The Only Survivor’ on the New York Post’s front page.
Tim Horner is a sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated with a BA Journalism from University College Falmouth before most his colleagues were born. A previous editor of adult mags, he now enjoys bringing the tone down in the viral news sector.