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Xmas Murder Cross - Photo of Belo and Monique.jpg


FORREST CITY - Police arrested Joshua Thomas last night for the murder of his uncle, Belo Cross, on Christmas Eve.  Scott Green, who was in custody as the prime suspect, was released from jail. Upon his capture, Thomas confessed to the crime, according to police sources.

       Investigators relied on several key pieces of evidence to solve the case. First, one member of the Cross household could be ruled out as a suspect because she had an alibi and could not have been present when the murder of Belo Cross occurred. Monique Cross was at the Lancaster Theater when her husband was killed (as confirmed by Monique’s driver, Anthony Ricci, and the theater’s head usher). 

      Having ruled out Monique Cross as the killer, investigators then looked at the evidence to determine the motive for the murder. From a pill bottle found in the study, they learned that Belo Cross was taking a prescription drug called Mercaptopurine. This drug is used to treat cancer (acute lymphocytic leukemia). An interview with Leah Thomas also revealed that Belo Cross was planning to change his will. Investigators surmised that Belo Cross was faced with the prospect of his possible demise from cancer and was putting his affairs in order. Fear of being disinherited from the Cross family fortune would provide a strong motive for murder.

      Another document found in Belo’s study gave investigators insight into the victim’s motivation to change his will. Belo had hired a private investigator to look into the cold case murder of a young woman named Susan Isaacs. Who was Susan Issacs, and how did her murder years ago relate to the Cross family?  An article from the July 8, 2012 newspaper revealed that Susan Issacs was murdered in an alley near Market Street at 2:20 am. The police speculated that she was walking from a downtown club or bar when she was killed. Documents in the case file provide other important details. Issacs’ dating profile stated that she worked for First State Bank. From Gabriela Morales’ social media posts, investigators learned that Joshua Thomas was the Vice-President of First State Bank before Belo Cross made him President of Forrest City Savings & Loan. 

       From Halsey Rush, investigators learned that Joshua Thomas had been a heavy drinker who engaged in extreme behavior until he got sober several years ago. He often went to the bar called Sinners & Salt back when he worked at First State Bank. The letter from private investigator Samuel K. Knight confirmed that Susan Isaacs was at Sinners & Salt until 2:00 am on the night of her murder, and she left in the company of a white male. Furthermore, she was killed with a blunt force weapon likely a small metal pipe. Could Joshua Thomas have been the white male who left Sinners & Salt with the victim only minutes before she was murdered?

       An article in the newspaper provides an important clue. When Don and May Landers were renovating the home at 45 Plan Way in Forrest City, they discovered a piece of rebar wrapped in plastic hidden behind the drywall in the kitchen. From Gabriela Morales’ social media posts, investigators learned that Joshua Thomas owned that house at the time Susan Issacs was killed (a photo of the house in the newspaper matched the photo in Morales’ social media posts of a house once owned by Joshua Thomas).

       Investigators concluded that a very drunk Joshua Thomas was at Sinners & Salt on the night Susan Isaacs was killed and left the bar with the victim at 2:00 am.  In light of this evidence, the FBI had probable cause to arrest Joshua Thomas. After being arrested, Thomas admitted that he did go to Sinners & Salt, hoping to run into Susan Issacs since he had an interest in her. Thomas drank heavily and had no memory of that night after around 1:00 am, but woke up the next morning to find blood on his clothes and a bloody piece of rebar next to his bed. Thomas admitted to pursuing Issacs romantically in the past and being rejected. After cleaning the bloody rebar with bleach, Thomas the murder weapon behind a wall in his house.

      Investigators concluded that Joshua Thomas discovered that Belo Cross knew about Susan Issacs and planned to disinherit him. Furthermore, Joshua Thomas could have been exposed to criminal liability for the murder of Susan Issacs since Belo was close to discovering the truth. A social media post by Gabriela Morales’ with an accompanying photo shows that Joshua Thomas and Det. H. Barrett (who originally investigated the Isaacs murder) were friends in high school and played on the same football team. It is possible that Barrett told Joshua Thomas a private investigator was asking questions about him in connection with the cold case murder of Susan Issacs. It is also possible that Thomas snooped in Belo Cross’ study and found the photo of Isaacs and the letter from Samuel K. Knight.  

      To save his career and inheritance, Thomas decided to kill Belo Cross before Belo could ruin him. On the night of the murder, Thomas lured Scott Green to Belo’s study with a falsified note. When Green arrived through the terrace door, Thomas had already killed Belo. As Green entered the study, Thomas screamed out as if he were Belo Cross. He then quickly slipped through the door from the study to the children’s playroom (see the Cross Manor floor plan). Green fell for the trap. He ran to Belo’s body just as Graham Strong broke down the door. Green was framed as the murderer.

       The final piece of evidence that confirmed this theory for the investigators was the interview of the nanny, Isabelle Vargas. During the interview, young Andrea Thomas said that after she heard her uncle Belo scream, her father came into her bedroom. This eliminated Joshua’s alibi that he was at his club playing poker (the interview with the manager of the Nine Society Club also stated that the club closed early that night due to a fire in the storeroom). 

     The District Attorney’s office indicated that they would charge Joshua Thomas with the murders of both Belo Cross and Susan Isaacs. Thomas is being held without bail at the Forrest City Correctional Facility.



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