Investigation into student’s homicide drags on, offers no answers

Illustration by Trevor Moore

On Sept. 3, the body of Chico State student Marc Thompson was found in his burning Ford Taurus 25 miles northeast of Oroville. The death was ruled a homicide, but six months later investigators have not been able to unravel what happened.

I first met Marc when he walked into the Butte College Inter-Club Council, a group for which I was the director. Marc was there to represent the Anthropology and Third Wave Feminism clubs.

He was a passionate, though logical, voice in the council. He was at every special meeting during a massive overhaul of the council’s bylaws.

Then he ran for, and was elected, the Cultural Affairs Director for Butte College’s Associated Students. He served with passion, dedication and honor.

Need a student for a shared governance committee? Marc would check his schedule then say, “I can do that.” He was committed to making sure that student voices were heard.

This was a pattern he would come to repeat at Chico State.

He was loud. He didn’t conform to conventional codes of professionalism. He could be a royal pain.

He was my friend and respected colleague. He was a person that you’d want to have in any organization or workplace.

He was one of the best people I’ve known.

In the aftermath of Marc’s death, with no information coming from authorities, his body hadn’t even been released to his family. Several people from Chico State, Butte College and Stirfry Seminars, including myself, came together to plan a memorial.

Even though I agreed to be a host for the event, I don’t remember much of it. I was still coping with my internal turmoil. I’m still not certain how I managed to get through it.

Marc was gone — never coming back.

Weeks after his murder I received a phone call from the detective in charge of his case. My number was in Marc’s phone, and he wanted to ask me a few questions.

Was Marc involved with “molly”? I had to Google that. What about other drugs? Anything I could think of at all?

My heart sank. They were grasping at straws.

Now, six months later, his case is still open. Three months ago, a mutual friend of ours talked with the detective. There “wasn’t much he could share” about the case.

I called that detective this week to ask if there’s been any progression on the investigation. I was told that they have a “few leads” but can’t discuss them in case it compromises the investigation.

I’m not sure I can believe that anymore. I have to wonder if that is the canned response that is given when investigators don’t have a clue.

It is time to investigate the investigation. Was Marc’s case handled properly or was he another victim of racism?

If you have any information about Marc’s case please contact the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Chris D’Amato at 530-538-7544 or 530-538-7671.

Joseph Rogers can be reached at [email protected] or @JosephLRogers1 on Twitter.