Missing or murdered: Relatives testify, new evidence emerges in Skeek trial
As the trial for a man accused of murdering his wife entered its third day, family members of Linda Skeek took the witness stand Tuesday.
According to court documents, Thomas Skeek, 37, contacted police to report his 32-year-old wife, Linda, missing on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, when she didn't show up for work. A Jan. 7 alert from the Anchorage Police Department sought help from the public in locating her. By Jan. 16, APD announced Linda's disappearance was "suspicious." Four days later, a subsequent alert notified the public of charges against Thomas.
The defense has asserted the state can't prove Linda is dead — let alone killed by her husband — because investigators never found any remains, while prosecutors plan to lean on blood evidence and several witnesses to prove that Linda is no longer around and that Thomas ended her life.
On Tuesday, the state called on Linda's family members to testify, asking them about the frequency of communication with Linda prior to 2016. One by one, they described the last time they heard from Linda.
The testimony was tearful, and at times, tedious.
Jurors were excused from the courtroom several times Tuesday as attorneys worked out technical issues and argued over the scope of witness testimony.
Rena Sims, Linda's foster mother, testified she was immediately suspicious when Thomas told her Linda had not been home in days, but he hadn't reported her missing to police.
"So I asked him, 'Did you kill Linda?' and he said, low voice, 'I don't think so.'" Sims recounted. "High voice, 'You don't think so?' Low voice, 'No, I did not kill Linda."
Sims said after the confrontation, Thomas reported Linda missing to APD and started contacting family members.
Outside of the presence of the jury, Sims spoke more freely, saying she was suspicious because she knew the two had a troubled, violent relationship, and Linda wanted a divorce. She also told the court that she recorded subsequent phone calls with Thomas — recordings that investigators did not receive until this month — but he denied killing Linda during the recorded calls too.
It's unclear if jurors will hear about other alleged details that have come to light since the start of the trial. That includes a statement Thomas allegedly made to Linda's biological mother, and a damning statement allegedly made by one of Thomas and Linda's children.
"Robert Sheldon said that little Thomas, Thomas Skeek, was in class one day [...] and he made a comment in front of some other classmates, as well as in front of a teacher, that his dad had killed his mom," APD Detective John Foraker told the judge.
He said the incident is alleged to have happened around April of 2016, but he only heard about it once the trial started.
Foraker said in this case, however, it seems to be happening more frequently than usual.
The trial is expected to span several weeks.
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