Vernon E. Thomas

Vernon E. Thomas

NEOSHO, Mo. — A 42-year-old suspect is being held without bond in the slaying of another man this past weekend in Newton County.

Sheriff's deputies responded at 12:46 a.m. Saturday to a residence in the 20000 block of Route Y in response to what initially was reported as a man suffering from a respiratory issue. Deputies and emergency medical personnel found Wesley Porter, 37, a resident of the address, deceased and with injuries indicative of a homicide, according to a news release Monday from the Newton County Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff's office said a woman at the residence provided the name of another man who had been at the house, and he was located and brought in for questioning. Vernon E. Thomas, 42, of Goodman, subsequently admitted having been in an altercation with Porter and was arrested on a first-degree murder charge, according to the sheriff's office.

A probable-cause affidavit filed with the charge on Monday states that Dana Warren woke up at 12:40 a.m. Saturday after having passed out earlier in the night from drinking at the residence with Porter and Thomas. She found Porter lying on the floor when she woke up and was unable to wake him.

She noticed he was not breathing and attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which produced bleeding from his nose, and she called 911, according to the affidavit.

Warren told deputies who arrived on the scene that Thomas was gone when she woke up. Further investigation led to the questioning of another witness, Jadie Long, who told deputies that Thomas woke her up at her residence at 12:43 a.m. and told her he had been drunk and got mad with a guy and "beat the f--- out of him," according to the affidavit.

Thomas was taken into custody and interviewed after being read his Miranda rights, according to the document. In the course of the interview, he purportedly admitted having pushed Porter prior to a kitchen cabinet having toppled onto the fallen man. He claimed that he lifted the cabinet off Porter and left the house, according to the affidavit.

Thomas told deputies that he did not know how Porter wound up dead or how Porter suffered injuries to both his nose and the back of his head as well as other apparent bruising of his face and head.

The affidavit states that the cabinet was still tipped over in the kitchen when deputies arrived and did not appear to have been picked up. A deep fryer that apparently spilled when the cabinet was toppled did not appear to have slopped any oil on the deceased man's shirt, according to the affidavit.

The sheriff's office said an autopsy was being conducted Monday at Frontier Forensics in Kansas City, Kansas, in connection with the homicide.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe. 

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