|Andrew Thompson went to court Friday to seek permission to go to his father's memorial service. A judge said no. (Ty Russell/Associated Press)|
Okla. soccer star accused of slaying bullying father
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Emmanuel Thompson used to pace the sidelines at his son's high school soccer games, berating the boy for his play so mercilessly that the coach had to ask him to leave. At home, Thompson smacked his son around and bullied him into focusing on nothing but his studies and soccer.
Later, Thompson's anger flared again when his son disappointed him by getting kicked off his college team for breaking the rules.
Earlier this month, in what friends suggested was the tragic culmination of years of tension and resentment between father and son, Thompson -- a physical education teacher and former soccer player himself -- was found slain at his home, his body stuffed in a freezer.
His son, Andrew Jude Thompson, 20, was jailed on suspicion of murder.
"We knew he had always had problems with his dad. I know for somebody to ball frustration up for so long . . .," high school friend Samantha Barrientes said, her voice trailing off.
Investigators said he stabbed and slashed his 48-year-old father to death, hid the body and used the man's credit cards for a couple of weeks until the crime came to light. He was found hiding in the attic of his father's home.
"He did confess," The Village Police Chief Steve Jagosh said. "During the interview, he said they got into an altercation and that he stabbed him and hit him with an ax in self-defense." Jagosh would not disclose what they argued about, but said it was not soccer.
On Friday, defense lawyer Ronald Kelly described his client as distraught but would not discuss any potential trial strategy.
A judge refused to let Andrew Thompson out of jail to attend a memorial service for his father yesterday, after a prosecutor argued: "He had 10 days to eulogize his father while his father's body was in the freezer."
Police in The Village, a city surrounded by Oklahoma City, were alerted to the case on Dec. 4 by some of Andrew Thompson's friends, who became suspicious because he was selling household items. The friends went snooping around the house and discovered the body in a freezer in the garage.
Police in The Village later found the corpse in the trunk of a car in the garage.
Jagosh said his officers had been called to the home numerous times in recent years because of fights between Emmanuel Thompson and either his former wife or his son.
Police arrested Emmanuel Thompson in 2003 for hitting his son for "disobeying house rules and orders," according to court documents. Emmanuel Thompson pleaded guilty to assault and battery and was let off without a jail sentence.
Andrew Thompson had scratches and a welt, and told police his father hit him several times and threw him into a wall. He said it was just one of a number of times he had been beaten by his father.
Emmanuel Thompson's anger toward his son flared last year in the office of Michael DuRoy, the soccer coach at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, when the three met to discuss Andrew's dismissal from the team for violating team rules.
"His dad came up to get him, and it was pretty heated," recalled DuRoy, who would not specify the violations. "He was yelling at him pretty good, and Andrew just sat their like a dog that had been kicked. Andrew teared up at one point, and I knew it was a bad situation between the two.
"I just think Emmanuel had unreal expectations of Andrew and put too much pressure on him and would not accept Andrew not living up to his expectations. I think Andrew felt like he could never please his dad."
Billy Tilman, Andrew Thompson's soccer coach at Northwest Classen High, where the young man was an all-state star, said he had to ask the boy's father not to stand on the sidelines during games.
"I knew that his relationship with his son was difficult and I sensed that when he was there, Andrew was nervous," Tilman said.
Fred Engh, president of the Florida-based National Alliance for Youth Sports and author of the book "Why Johnny Hates Sports," said the Thompson case is part of a troubling phenomenon in which parents with unreal expectations drive their children hard and sometimes explode in anger.
In 2000, at a Reading, Mass., hockey game, one father argued with another dad over rough play on the ice and beat him to death. Thomas Junta was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to six to 10 years in prison.
"We've always had the parent with the weak ego that psychologists will say are living vicariously through his kid," Engh said.
"What we all need to remember is that 95 percent of the parents out there do it right and make sports a very valuable experience for young people."