See Update No. 4 at the end of this post detailing the charges against Thomas Michael Wilhelm, which include the allegation he stole the murder weapon from a neighbor.
See Update No. 3 identifying the victim as Christian Marie Murray and providing her business profile.
See Update No 2 providing more details on the business dispute between Wilhelm and Murray.
See Update No. 1 identifying Wilhelm as the suspected murderer of his live-in girlfriend Murray.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 9, 8:28 A.M.: Costa Mesa Police received a call around 6:24 p.m. about a man with a gun inside a home in the 2900 block of Redwood Avenue.
Shortly after officers rolled up, a gunshot was heard.
By the time they left, a man was being held for murder.
Based on a media statement from the Costa Mesa Police Department, little more information than that has been released, pending more details expected some time today from homicide detectives.
We do know witnesses led police to the home. After the shot rang out, officers found a woman clinging to life inside the home. She'd been shot in the chest. The unidentified woman was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where she was later pronounced dead.
The man who is believed to have shot the woman was in “a domestic relationship” with her. The media statement promises more details on that pending notification to the victim's family.
UPDATE NO. 1, JULY 9, 12:44 P.M.: According to a Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) update from Lt. Tim Schennum, 48-year-old Thomas Michael Wilhelm and his girlfriend of three years had been arguing the past two years about a small business they shared together.
They also shared the home in the 2900 block of Redwood Avenue, where their bitter differences came to a head last evening with Wilhelm allegedly shooting the yet-to-be identified 45-year-old woman in the chest, killing her.
Officers, who had been called to the residence about a man threatening his girlfriend with a gun, heard a gunshot around 6:30 p.m. before forcing their way inside and finding the woman mortally wounded in the bedroom. Costa Mesa Fire paramedics treated her before she was rushed to Western Medical Center, where she was pronounced deceased.
Wilhelm was apprehended in the backyard, and a small caliber handgun that is believed to have been fired several times at the woman was recovered. He was booked on suspicion of murder at the Costa Mesa Jail before being taken to Orange County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
More information about the shooting is being collected by the Costa Mesa Police Detective Investigations Unit at 714.754.5205. Perhaps the commenter who below called the shooter “an amaxing man” has something to share?
UPDATE NO. 2, JULY 9, 1:13 P.M.: To get a better fix on the business dispute Costa Mesa Police investigators say is at the center of the fatal shooting blamed on Thomas Michael Wilhelm, one need go no farther than the “About Us” page on the Tom Wilhelm Sprinkler Co. website.
There, you will find the following disclaimer:
Due to changes within the corporate structure Tom Wilhelm is not longer associated with this company. If he shows up at your door to do work under this company name please notify us immediately as he is an unlicensed contractor and no longer affiliated with this company in any way.
On the “Contact Us” page, you'll find this comment, left hours are the shooting:
Tom's company has been taken over by a drug addict and an ex-employee. Tom Wilhelm is a wonderful, experienced man, and in an attempt to ruin his life and business this woman is trying to cut him out of his own company. Please do not believe the lies.
This was left before Wilhelm's girlfriend was shot to death:
Tom Wilhelm is the name behind this company. He IS THE ONE WITH THE 30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. The person claiming this website is a fraud. And a drug addict using the name of Tom and a worker that Tom fired. Call Tom directly for the quality service you expect at 714-[number withheld].
UPDATE NO. 3, JULY 10, 12:15 P.M.: The 45-year-old woman shot several times in the chest has been identifed as Christian Marie Murray.
State records indicate Murray was listed as the chief
financial officer of Tom Wilhelm Sprinkler Co. Inc. when the business was incorporated on June 30.
Thomas Michael Wilhelm is reportedly not mentioned anywhere on the application.
After the jump, Murray's Linked In profile . . .
Tom Wilhelm Sprinkler Company
Develop and implemented online marketing campaign to increase new
sales, designed and maintained web page and online presence. Created
and maintained company database, invoices, accounts payable and
receivables. Daily scheduling, record management and follow customer
contact for all accounts.
Retail Sales Associate
New Feet Store Retail Sales
August 2001-February 2005
Seal Beach, CA
Develop and maintain a client base of regular customers through a
direct outbound telephone campaign. Follow up on all customer leads
generated through infomercial. Retail sales with walk-in customers.
Demonstrate products and evaluate customer needs based on customers
current pain and medical issues. Open and close store, bank deposits
and inventory. Responsible for achieving monthly sales quotas.
Command P Inc
February 2001 (7 years 1 month)
Owned and Operated large format digital printing company. Company sold due to divorce 2001.
Responsible for designing all start up marketing and sales materials.
Company grew to generate 500,000 average monthly sales. We developed a
large clientele and handled everything from box comps for new product
packaging for companies such as Belkin, Simple Green and Lakeshore
Learning Materials. We also specialized in trade show banners and
signage across the country. As an owner I was involved in the day to
day operations but my primary responsibilities were customer service,
account management, sales and marketing.
Swim and diving teams
Water Polo team
Lakewood High School
Honors and Awards:
1989, 90 & 91 employee of the year with Astro Office Products,
1995 New Business of the year award Cerritos Chamber of Commerce.
UPDATE NO. 4, JULY 10, 3:37 P.M.: Thomas Michael Wilhelm broke into a neighbor's home on Redwood Avenue to steal the handgun he would use to pump several rounds into the chest of his live-in girlfriend before running out of ammunition, according to an arraignment statement this afternoon from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
After killing 45-year-old Christine
Marie Murray, Wilhelm returned to his neighbor's home–again, without permission–to obtain a shotgun he took to the backyard, where he fired one round into the ground, according to the OCDA.
An earlier Costa Mesa Police Department account indicated Wilhelm may have tried to commit suicide. He was arrested by responding police officers walking from the neighbor's back to his own home he shared with Murray.
He was scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Ana today on one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement
for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. A conviction could land him in state prison for 50 years to life, a prospect that grows more likely considering the veteran homicide prosecutor who drew the case, Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.