Left and Center: Thomas circa, 1991
Right: Age Progressed to age 24
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: March 18, 1991
Missing From: Glendale, Douglas County, Oregon
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: July 5, 1988
Age: 2 years old
Height and Weight: 2’5″ and 35 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Male, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Thomas had a distinctive gap between his upper front teeth in 1991, he might use his nickname “Tommy”
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A purple sweatshirt, gray pants, and black/white checkered sneakers,
NCMEC Number: 752142
Details of Disappearance
Thomas was last seen in Glendale, Oregon on March 18th 1991. He was last known to be playing in the front yard of his home at approximately 11:30 am. His father, Larry Gibson, stated that he came outside to find his son playing outside and told him to stay in the yard and to wait for his sister, Karen, to come outside.
Larry claimed that he went for a 2 mile jog that which would have taken approximately 45 minutes. As he hopped a fence in his yard, he noticed a stray cat walking in the vicinity of the home at that time. He was a deputy sheriff at the time and was carrying a .45 automatic with him. He decided to shoot the cat since the family was having problems with them at the time.
Larry missed the animal and the cat proceeded to run down a hill. Thomas’s mother, Judith, claimed she heard the shot. He then continued to jog and when he returned home, Judith informed him that she could not find Thomas. He was immediately reported missing and within an hour of his disappearance, various people such as neighbors, volunteers, and police officers started to search for him.
Investigators immediately noticed that Larry was acting strangely during the onset of the investigation. Instead of immediately searching for his son, Larry took a shower and dressed in his uniform. He then drove off in his patrol car. He claimed that he did this because he believed Thomas was kidnapped and he wanted to check local rest stops for any signs of him.
He also told the searchers to stop looking for Tommy because it was snowing. He also lied to investigators during an interview with the FBI. He told them that he never left his residence at all during the day that Tommy vanished. They also noticed that there was extra mileage on his patrol car. He then stated that the extra mileage was due to his search for Tommy at local red stops.
Judith was also questioned in her sons disappearance. She told authorities that Larry went into Glendale so that he could check on his private car. She later stated that investigators coerced her responses.
Thomas’s sister claimed that she witnessed an unidentified couple pull into the driveway of the Gibson home and snatch Thomas before driving off. Larry gave this piece of information to investigators but they found Karen’s claim to be suspicious because when she was initially interviewed, she did not tell them about the abduction.
The two individuals were female and male. The female subject was described as being Caucasian and having long blonde hair. The male subject was described as Caucasian with dark colored hair and beard and was wearing scruffy clothing. They were allegedly driving an older model tan or gold colored truck with the license plate in the wrong place.
A female neighbor of the Gibson’s said she was on her way to the bank when she saw this car with the two subjects pull into the driveway of the Gibson home. Investigators are unsure if the story because she also did not initially tell investigators this story when she was interviewed about the case.
Investigators were able to determine that Larry did in fact go on a jog that day but not for the amount he claimed he did. He only went on a mile long jog which would have taken only 20 minutes. That means that there is another 20 minutes that are unaccounted for in Larry’s timeframe of when he jogged and when Thomas disappeared.
Investigators discovered the corpse of a dead cat in the area. Forensic analysis showed that the cat was killed by a gunshot through its heart and lungs. Investigators believe that the bullet traveled through the cat and hit Thomas while he played nearby. They theorize that Larry went on his jog not knowing that Tommy was shot and returned to find him dead.
They believe that Larry used the additional 20 plus minutes to clean up the crime scene and hide Tommy’s body. They believe he might have put the body in the trunk of his patrol car. It’s possible that while volunteers searched for Thomas, Larry drove off with his body.
Larry maintained his innocence in his son’s disappearance and brought up how he had passed a polygraph exam in Tommy’s case and that no actual evidence was found to concur their theories on his involvement. By the time 6 weeks had passed since Thomas disappeared, Larry was the primary suspect in the case.
When investigators initially confronted Gibson with their suspicion of Tommy’s death and his involvement, Larry oddly said “it was possible” when they stated that they believed he accidentally shot him. Investigators believe that Thomas’s death was concealed so that Larry wouldn’t lose his job.
Larry was arrested and charged with Tommy’s murder in April of 1994. His arrest occurred after his daughter changed her story about Thomas’s disappearance. She claimed that she never witnessed a couple kidnap Tommy but actually witnessed Larry beating the child and then putting his limp body in a black garbage bag and then into the trunk of his patrol car.
Karen told investigators that she lied to them because Larry threatened her that he would kill her if she revealed the truth. Judith told police that Larry was physically abusive towards both Thomas and Karen. She also stated he was abusive towards their daughter, Lisa, who was born after Tommy’s disappearance.
Witnesses stated that Larry threatened to kill both Judith and Karen after Judith left Larry. His half sister testified against him at his trial and claimed that he admitted to Tommy’s murder shortly after he went missing. Judith and Karen both testified against him as well. Prosecutors have also argued that Larry was extremely abusive towards his son and that he was under much stress at the time since Judith was taking college classes at the time.
They suggested that Thomas’s death was caused by abuse and that his body was hidden to conceal the crime. Larry was convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter in relation to his sons death in March of 1995. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison but was released in 1996. He continues to deny that he killed his son. He has since moved to Montana and is a country music singer.
He has posted a website appealing for information regarding his sons whereabouts and other missing children. Thomas has never been found and some agencies continue to list him as a non family abduction.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Oregon State Police (541) 776-6114