LAKELAND – A man that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says “created a reign of terror for the past 20 years” was indicted this week on first degree murder charges for a cold case that dates back to 2001.
Terry L. Thomas, 38, whose last known address was 408 Pine St., Lakeland, is now an inmate in the Polk County Jail for shooting a 25-year-old pregnant woman multiple times while she sat in her car.
The charges against him got even stiffer on Tuesday, Dec. 13, when Thomas was indicted on a first degree murder charge in the 2001 shooting death of 31-year-old Eaton Park resident Robert “Bobby” Monroe, who was also known as “Beef Truck.” Monroe was fatally shot while inside the Paradise Club in Gordonville, a town near Bartow, on March 17, 2001.
Thomas had been arrested on Nov. 6, 2010, and charged with premeditated attempted murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for what the sheriff’s office said was his vicious attack on Tamesha Doreen Miles. The 25-year-old woman was pregnant at the time of the shooting.
She was sitting inside her car at 21 Noel Drive in West Lakeland at 9:30 p.m. when the attack happened. Miles and her unborn child survived the assault.
That shooting landed Thomas in jail, and he was being held on $1,000,000 bond for the attack on Miles.
Prior to his arrest for shooting her, Thomas had been out on bond for aggravated battery – an arrest that was made less than a month before he shot at Miles, the sheriff’s office noted. In fact, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office reports that Thomas had been quite familiar with the Polk County Jail, having been there on 33 prior occasions since 1990, on charges such as murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, battery, grand theft – for which he was sentenced to time in state prison — aggravated fleeing to elude, false imprisonment, resisting arrest, battery on a law enforcement officer, possession of marijuana, possession of a bomb making device, driving after his license got suspended, and grand theft auto.
In 2001, Thomas was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, although he only served until April 2006. He had been charged on Oct. 21, 2001 with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, and false imprisonment.
At the time Thomas got arrested by Polk County deputies in November 2010, Judd said, “Although Thomas is behind bars now, he has created a reign of terror for the past 20 years. He has been arrested 33 times in Polk County, beginning with the charge of murder when he was 17 years old.”
In addition to shooting Miles and her unborn child, Judd noted that Thomas “is suspected in at least one other murder, and now is the time for witnesses to come forward to make sure that he is never able to prey upon the community again.”
The community responded, the Sheriff’s Office noted. Earlier this year, Polk County detectives developed some new information in the 2001 homicide case involving Monroe, which led to an expanded investigation on this cold case. Detectives conducted more interviews, and the evidence they gathered linked Thomas to the murder weapon that had been used in 2001.
This information was presented to a Polk County Grand Jury, which presented an indictment for first degree murder on Tuesday.
“Witnesses did step forward and detectives were able to charge Thomas with the 2001 murder of Monroe,” Judd said, adding that Thomas will be held at the Polk County Jail on no bond for Monroe’s murder.
“It is our intent,” Judd said, “that Thomas goes to jail for a long time. Hopefully his reign of terror is over.”
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