A Nebraska College Student Left A Party And Was Never Seen Again

A man was charged with second-degree murder in the case of Tyler Marie Thomas, who disappeared on her way home from an off-campus party on Dec. 3, 2010.

March 30, 2023
Tyler Marie Thomas, pictured here smiling, was last seen in Peru, Nebraska on December 3, 2010.

Tyler Marie Thomas disappeared after leaving an off-campus apartment in December 2010. Foul play is suspected.

Photo by: The Charley Project

The Charley Project

Nighttime temperatures at the end of the fall 2010 semester were falling into the teens as 19-year-old Tyler Marie Thomas made her way back to her dorm on the campus of Peru State College in Peru, Nebraska.

Thomas had reportedly been at an off-campus party where she had become intoxicated and fought with her best friend before walking back to her dorm. The last time anybody saw her, she was near the Peru water tower, just a few hundred feet from her dorm, at about 1:30 a.m.

She sent her last text message just a few minutes later when she told a friend she didn’t know where she was.

Concerned friends reported her missing at about 3 a.m. as temperatures continued to fall. They knew Thomas hadn’t been properly dressed for the weather, and there was no good reason that she wouldn’t have made it safely inside her dorm since she was headed home.

Within days, investigators zeroed in on a suspect — fellow student Joshua Keadle. According to reports, Thomas and Keadle had been on a date at some point in 2010, but she decided not to see him again. Keadle was a junior studying sports management, but he was about 10 years older than Thomas at the time of her disappearance.

Keadle’s story changed several times as investigators questioned him. According to the Charley Project, Keadle first said he saw Thomas walking near the water tower. Later, he said that he had given her a ride to a boat dock along the nearby Missouri River where they smoked marijuana and engaged in a sex act.

When police checked the area around the boat dock, they found tire tracks consistent with Keadle’s vehicle and drag marks from the dock down to the river bank.

At the same time that police were investigating Thomas’s disappearance, another woman and a teen girl came forward to say that Keadle had assaulted them as well. In 2012, he was convicted of the sexual assault of the teenage girl and sentenced to 15 years in prison with a mandatory release date in 2021. Instead of allowing him to be set free, prosecutors brought murder charges against him in Thomas’s case in 2017.

The murder case went to trial in January 2020 where a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder.

Keadle is serving a 71-year sentence for Thomas’s murder. According to the Nebraska Department of Corrections, his earliest parole date is in 2054.

Thomas’s body was never recovered.

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