Race car legend Mickey Thompson, and his wife, Trudy, are gunned down in their driveway.
Mickey Thompson was a legend in the world of auto racing. Among his many innovations were the “slingshot” dragsters. His home-built “Challenger” was the first car to break the 400 miles per hour mark. Mickey was also a pioneer in promoting off-road racing. Mickey’s son, Danny Thompson, recalls his father’s natural drive:
Sometimes, Mickey’s obsession with speed drove him too far. A speedboat accident paralyzed him from the waist down. Doctors said that he would never walk again. With the support of his wife, Trudy, he made an incredible recovery and returned to business as usual.
Mickey developed an extremely profitable stadium-racing venture. But the deal, with business partner Richard Goodwin, went sour. It ended up in a nasty lawsuit. According to Collene Campbell, Mickey’s sister, Mickey told her that he and his wife had received death threats:
Mickey and Trudy lived in Bradbury, California, an affluent rural community located near Los Angeles. On the morning of March 16, 1988, the peaceful quiet was shattered by the sound of gunfire. The shots came from Mickey Thompson’s home. At the bottom of the driveway, sheriffs found Trudy shot to death. A few yards away, near the garage, Mickey Thompson was also found, dead.
When Trudy was killed, she was wearing over $70,000 worth of jewelry. She and her husband were carrying $4,000 in cash. But nothing had been taken. Robbery was an unlikely motive.
Police were able to learn that one of the neighbors was a witness. Appearing on Unsolved Mysteries with his identity disguised, the witness described what he and his wife heard that morning:
Mickey Thompson’s sister, Colleen, had a possible scenario:
The witness again:
The police theorized that when Mickey came out through the garage, he was confronted by the gunmen. One of them immediately shot Mickey, while the second approached Trudy. Mickey was forced to watch as the second gunmen shot his wife. Mickey was then executed as well.
The witness said he also saw the gunman:
The two suspects were dressed in jogging suits. They were between 20 and 30 years of age and were approximately six feet tall. Police are certain that they were hired to do the killings.
After investigating the case for 13 years, police arrested Thompson’s former business partner, Michael Goodwin, and charged him with the double murder. Lt. Daniel Rosenberg layed out the case against Goodwin:
Goodwin’s lawyer, Jeffrey Benice, says his client was falsely accused:
However, an eyewitness came forward and said Goodwin was seen sitting in a station wagon in the Thompson’s’ neighborhood, spying on them with binoculars several days before the murders.
Michael Goodwin pleaded not guilty, but the jury didn’t buy his story. At his trial, they heard that Goodwin had bragged that he would, quote, “Have Mickey Thompson wasted.” Further, he had left the country right after the murder.
Michael Goodwin was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. The police are still trying to identify and prosecute the two gunmen. A one million dollar reward is being offered in this case.