Skip to Content

Decade After Brutal Slaying, Memories, Pain Linger


A few times a year, Rod and Linda Jones of Redmond and their daughter, Sara, visit a Terrebonne cemetery in the shadow of towering Smith Rock.

They place flowers at the marker for Barbara Thomas — their sister, sister-in law and aunt — most recently on what would have been her 62nd birthday, earlier this month.

They come to mark her life — a life senselessly cut short in hideous fashion — and not her awful, brutal, even infamous death, 10 years ago this Saturday.

Just about anyone living on the High Desert back in the spring of 2001 can recall the shock and horror as details unfolded of the bizarre case that became known as the “Redmond 5.”

Five teens, ages 15 to 18, the oldest Thomas’s son Adam, had been up to no good that spring break week — holed up at a motel until they were kicked out, partying hard, rebelling against their parents as many teens do. And things went from bad to worse when they went to his mom’s home on the Old Bend-Redmond Highway.

They trashed the house extensively, then plotted violence for when Barbara came home, filling a bathtub with water, extension cords and appliances ready, to electrocute her. A syringe filled with bleach.

The stuff of horror movies, tabloids or, in rare cases, gruesome reality.

But when the woman returned home, after buying baby-shower presents for her first grandchild, the means of attack were more mundane, yet no less brutal.

She was beaten with wine bottles –but would not stop trying to escape the brutality. Then, as one of the teens said to “finish her” and put her out of her misery, Adam Thomas could not fire the rifle shot – so the youngest, 15-year-old Seth Koch grabbed the gun and did it.

The five then piled into Barbara Thomas’s car and headed for Canada, where they’d heard marijuana was legal.

Police issued a bulletin throughout the region. They were stopped and arrested at the border, then returned to Bend to face years of courtroom hearings and, eventually, their sentences.

Thomas, Koch and Justin Link will spend the rest of their lives behind bars, unless appeals succeed. The two girls, Lucretia Karle and Ashley Summers, are now 10 years into 25-year sentences for their roles that day.

Those who still miss Barbara so focus on good memories and happy times, not the awful ones of that day or the months of agonizing court hearings and trials that were all about that day and what led up to it.

“She had a very infectious laugh and smile,” Linda Jones said Friday. “When Barbara laughed, the room lit up.” Indeed, the Joneses say they had moved to Central Oregon from Washington state to be near her.

“We’ve gotten past it,” she said. “We’ve moved on with our life.”

But she added: “The bitterness doesn’t go away.”

Deschutes County sheriff’s investigator, now-Capt. Marc Mills, also found a silver lining in what everyone learned about Barbara Thomas through the court proceedings, albeit in heartbreaking retrospect.

“The things that she believed in, and the type of woman that she was, was inspirational,” he said. “It was not only to me, but our whole investigative team.”

Now, Linda Jones feels justice was served, and the sentences should not be trimmed, commuted or reversed, whatever they have done behind bars since. She said she got a letter from Summers a few years back, full of the good things she’d done in prison, as she asked the governor for clemency. Linda was glad the request was denied.

“I’m not happy with anyone spending their life in prison, but it’s a just thing,” she said. “It’s something that they need to pay for. They did this. They need to make amends.”

“And they’ll never bring her back, and it doesn’t matter what they do, how good they are — I mean, these kids had choices to make at that time, and they made the wrong choices.”

Rod Jones says he has no desire to talk to any of the five: “I’ve never talked to any of them, and I have no desire to. They’re where they belong.”

Family and friends have tried to move on, but vow to never forget the woman at the center of the tragedy.

“She was a beautiful woman,” Rod Jones said. “I’m sure she’s happy in heaven.”

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content