A week after a St. Louis County man’s family found him dead along I-255 near Dupo, many questions remain unanswered.
Kyle “Fab” Thomas, 29, had been missing for days when his sister-in-law, Stacey Thomas, found his body off I-255 northbound near milepost 8 just south of Dupo about 5 p.m. last Wednesday.
According to a statement from the Illinois State Police, Kyle’s body was discovered approximately 130 feet from the shoulder of the interstate.
The site was immediately labeled a crime scene by emergency personnel who arrived to that location.
At 6:20 p.m., the St. Clair County coroner’s office pronounced Kyle deceased.
Illinois State Police Division of Criminal Investigation Zone 6 is conducting a death investigation, stressing it is an “open and ongoing” case.
Kyle’s family reported him missing to the St. Louis County Police Department on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 2.
According to the St. Louis County Police Department Public Information Office, the agency responded to the family’s home at approximately 4:50 p.m. Jan. 2, where Kyle’s mother Robyn Robinson told police she had last seen Kyle around 11 a.m. the day prior.
The St. Louis County police report said it appeared Kyle’s friends had heard from him or had seen him since then and the last anybody had seen him was late Jan. 1 into the early morning hours of Jan. 2.
The report stated Kyle was not determined to be of “endangered” status.
Later, his family learned that at least one person had seen Kyle later that morning.
A friend of Kyle who is in law enforcement found out that he had been pulled over in Chesterfield, Mo., at approximately 5:26 a.m. Jan. 2 and cited for speeding.
From what Kyle’s friend was told by the officer who pulled him over, Kyle “appeared nervous” and denied requests to search his vehicle. The officer said Kyle was traveling alone, but Kacy Thomas, Kyle’s twin brother said because Kyle had tinted windows and it was dark out, coupled with the fact the officer did not search his car, he was not sure his twin brother was alone.
Kacy said Kyle’s law enforcement friend said Kyle had asked the officer if he could wait while he called his mom and explained he was out of gas. The officer declined to wait but told Kyle there was a gas station up the street.
With that, the officer left. When he circled back later, Kyle and his vehicle were gone, the officer said.
Kacy questioned why this officer did not ask more questions, since he had said Kyle appeared nervous, and he feared this was because his brother was in danger.
He said it was possible Kyle’s phone was dead at that point and he could not have called his family for assistance.
“This could have been stopped at Chesterfield,” Kacy said.
On Jan. 2 at approximately 6:09 a.m., ISP District 11 responded to a report from a passerby of an abandoned vehicle on I-255 northbound. An ISP District 11 trooper found the vehicle near milepost 8.2, ISP said, but did not see anybody in the area.
ISP said this vehicle’s ignition and headlights were on, but the engine was not running at the time. The keys were left inside, and the vehicle was towed “in order to prevent a theft,” ISP said.
To load this vehicle on the tow truck, the tow truck operator put fuel in the tank and started it, ISP said.
The Thomas family said Kyle’s law enforcement friend was told his vehicle was found with a flat left front tire, along with Kyle’s phone and wallet still inside.
The phone was out of battery power.
The family said it was not contacted by ISP when Kyle’s vehicle was found and did not find out until that night. The only reason they knew about the development was because Kyle’s law enforcement friend kept following up, the family said.
“It’s common sense: If you find a vehicle from another state that’s still running that you know might be abandoned but you find identification and everything else, the smartest thing he could have done was contact that person’s family,” Kacy said.
The Thomas family also questioned the call response time, as they were told a trooper had not arrived on scene until 40 minutes after the vehicle had been reported abandoned.
An ISP news release did not state when the trooper arrived on scene.
“We were told the call got made at 6:09. So from 6:09 to 6:51, why wasn’t anybody out there sooner searching? People don’t care unless it’s their people,” Stacey said.
Kacy said in that span of time, somebody must have seen his brother.
“You can’t tell me nobody has seen him,” Kacy said.
After learning Kyle was the subject of a missing person investigation in St. Louis County and the vehicle reported earlier was referenced in the report, two ISP District 11 troopers returned to the site where Kyle’s vehicle was located on Jan. 3.
They searched by walking approximately 100 yards north and south of where the vehicle was towed and by driving “the adjacent area along the shoulders of both I-255 and Illinois Route 3,” ISP said.
On Jan. 5, ISP learned Kyle had still not been located and District 11 troopers conducted a subsequent search of the area where the vehicle was found with a K-9 in tow, ISP said.
Troopers had arrived at approximately 1:10 p.m. Jan. 5.
Robinson and the Thomases questioned ISP’s search efforts. They claim a dog was brought out only because of pressure from Kyle’s friend in law enforcement across the river.
They said law enforcement had not asked for details that could have helped the search.
“His shoe was lime green. They saw that shoe. They just didn’t know it was his shoe. But the reason they didn’t know it was his shoe is because they never contacted the family to ask ‘What did he have on that day?’ If they would have done something as simple as asking what he had on the day he left, they would have known it was his shoe and searched harder,” Kacy said.
ISP said ISP DCI Zone 6 had been in contact with the Thomas family numerous times throughout the investigation, but could not comment on specifics of these conversations because of it being an open and ongoing investigation.
Over the span of time Kyle was missing, the Thomas family searched the area where they were told Kyle’s vehicle had been found. Later, they came to believe authorities had told them the wrong location.
Kacy said the fact his family had found Kyle, not law enforcement, speaks volumes of efforts to find him.
“They didn’t do a damn (thing) from the jump,” Stacey said, adding “What little they did do was because of (Kyle’s) police officer friend.”
Stacey also questioned why law enforcement did not alert the media or issue an all-points bulletin.
“(If we) had that, we probably would have found him four days sooner,” Stacey said.
ISP said due to it being an open and ongoing investigation, it could not comment further on the family’s concerns except to reiterate its assertion that ISP is “committed to fully investigating this case and working through all available leads.”
Autopsy results are pending at this time, the St. Clair County coroner’s office and ISP said.
While told this can bring closure, Robinson is skeptical of this idea.
“I said, ‘Do you have a child? Have you ever lost a child?’ No. ‘So don’t tell me that I’ll get closure. You can’t bring him back. He’s not coming back,’” Robinson said.
“They said, ‘We know it’s hard to have hope and faith with us because we failed you the first time, but try to have hope and faith in us this time,’” Kacy added.
With so many unanswered questions, the Thomas family said there is one thing they know for sure: They must keep his memory alive.
“He was a walking angel. He was really too good for a lot of things in life,” Stacey said. “We’re just not going to let him be forgotten. We will make sure we carry his name for the rest of our lives.”
Kyle was well-known and well-loved in the St. Louis area, and his family said that just one look at him shows why.
“His signature look was Fab. It was F-A-B. It was fabulous,” Kacy said in reference to Kyle’s nickname. “You knew it was him because he would have dyed, different color hair, and he had a loud, bold outfit and shoes everytime. He stood out.”
Kyle was an integral part of St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley, said Amy Bird, his practicum supervisor and adviser.
“He was kind of a larger-than-life character. Everybody here knew who he was,” Bird said, continuing, “A bunch of us here have been crying for days. Some people said, ‘Oh, he was one of your students?’ and we’re all like, ‘No, you don’t understand. He wasn’t just one of our students. He was part of who we are. He was in the fabric of FloValley!’”
At the college, Kyle was studying human services and beginning his career as a social worker. This major combines basics of social work and psychology to provide students with a good foundation to enter a wide variety of careers geared at helping people – and it suited him perfectly.
“He just had a really big heart, he was always looking out for people. That’s why he went into human services – he wanted to be helpful to other people and use his own struggles to help other people see that they could overcome things too,” Bird said.
And Kyle did not need to wait until graduation to do this, his family said.
He volunteered in numerous ways, whether it was collecting coats for the Kurt Warner Foundation or school supplies with the Human Services Club, and served individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction and more through his job at Provident Crisis Help Line.
But even when not working or volunteering, Kyle was always motivating others, his twin brother said.
“He was a protector of people that needed help. Even in his rough times, he helped them, so you never knew his rough times because he overlooked his to help the next person … that’s how much he had an understanding of life,” Kacy said.
Kyle’s mother said her son’s strong faith in God played into his ability to lift others up and he would share sermons at his church.
“He always wanted people to know the word of God and be positive and influence people through their hard times. He was always on the phone with somebody, just directing them through life and trying to guide him as best he could,” Kacy explained.
Apart from listing his numerous accomplishments, both the Thomas family and Bird found it hard to adequately describe him – he was just so unique, they said.
“He was in a class of his own,” Robinson said, later adding, “There’s not a word in the dictionary that suits him.”
Kyle’s friend started a GoFundMe to assist with funeral expenses. To donate, click here.
Anybody with information that could help with the investigation is asked to call ISP Zone 6 agents at 618-571-4124 or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-8477.