This month’s missing persons case is the vanishing of Dorien Deon Thomas. I chose Dorien’s case as I’ve noticed all of the missing persons I’ve covered have been either white or female. It’s past time I’ve covered a male BIPOC – if you’re in the true crime community at all, you know that male missing persons often go underreported, along with BIPOC. So this is a step towards making my cases covered more diverse. Let’s explore the disappearance of Dorien Deon Thomas.
Who Is Dorien?
Dorien was born on May 6, 1989 in Amarillo, TX. He was biracial, being of Black and White descent. In 1998, the year he went missing, Dorien was four feet tall and weighed 60 pounds. By all accounts he was a happy child at the time, though little information is available. From what I can tell, Dorien liked to ride his bike and play with his friends. Nothing reported really stood out to me to indicate anything that there was anything wrong in his life.
That is not to say that everything was 100% perfect, of course. We can’t know what goes on behind closed doors or if he was holding anything back from his loved ones. We don’t know if he was teased at school or if he was fighting with friends. And to be frank – we, as the public, aren’t really entitled to information like that when it’s not directly relevant to the disappearance. My point is that we can’t ever know the whole story of anyone’s life – humans have too many sides for that to be possible, especially when they disappear.
On October 26, 1998, Dorien was last seen riding his bike near his home near the 1300 block of Ninth Avenue NW in Amarillo, TX. After filling his bike tires, he departed and was never seen again. His bike was fairly unique in that it was not one a young boy would have normally been seen with, especially in the 90s. The bike body was aqua and had white handlebars and tires, a black seat, and a rusted chain. It is unclear if this bike was a hand-me-down and that is why it was in poor condition, or if it was just roughly handled. The bike also had the words “Free Style” on the side of the body in white, though I can find no information on whether the words were sticker-type decals, etched in, or painted on. The bike has never been recovered.
According to the Charley Project, Dorien was not reported missing until a whole day after his initial disappearance. It’s not clear whether this was the family’s choice or a result of police policy. I lean towards the latter, though, since we hear time and time again of families being forced to wait to officially report people missing. It should be noted that there was a domestic violence call to the Thomas house earlier in the year, according to the Doe Network. No charges were filed as a result of the visit, but officers claimed Dorien was assaulted.
The initial theory in Dorien’s disappearance, which was put forth by the family, was that a family friend had taken Dorien to Dallas, but this theory was dismissed when the man called and presumably was questioned by the investigating officers. As time stretched on and no sign of Dorien was found, foul play became a more probable theory. Especially as police dug into recent events that had happened surrounding Dorien and the neighborhood. In 1997, Dorien and some friends discovered the body of a woman named Gloria Covington behind a local YMCA. Gloria had been brutally stabbed and died from her wound. Her friend, Linda Jackson, had apparently witnessed the homicide, and told police that Gloria had entered a light-colored truck prior to her death. Linda was killed a month later, and witnesses claimed to have seen her in a similarly colored truck prior to her murder. Their cases remain unsolved, and are presumably connected.
A woman who was friends with both Gayle and Linda was attacked by a White man a year after the murders. She survived the attack and described her attacker to a sketch artist. The man then apparently stopped by the Thomas household to speak to Dorien’s mother, who claimed he threatened to hurt her, Dorien had been home and witnessed the altercation. The theory here is that this man is either involved with or totally responsible for Gloria’s and Linda’s deaths, and then kidnapped and/or murdered Dorien because he knew too much. Dorien’s mother believes as much, at least.
The second of the more sinister theories revolves around a man named Brandon Wilson. There isn’t a lot of information publicly available for this theory, but the basics of this theory is that Brandon Wilson was a drifter who was sentenced to death after slashing the throat of a 9-year-old boy named Matthew Cecchi in California. Investigators believed that he may have been near Amarillo in 1998, but unfortunately Wilson completed suicide in prison before further information could be gleaned from him.
This case is cold and needs any leads it can get. If you have any information on this case, reach out to the Amarillo Police Department and ask for Sgt. M Brown at 806-378-3038 or APDDetectives@amarillo.gov. Reference case numbers NCMEC #: NCMC855596 and NCIC Number: M-165355038.