Home Pittsburgh Press Releases 2010 Mercer County Man Sentenced to Over 19 Years on Gun and Stalking Charges

Mercer County Man Sentenced to Over 19 Years on Gun and Stalking Charges
Sentenced as Armed Career Criminal for 1975 Murders and Assault

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 18, 2010
  • Southern District of West Virginia (304) 345-2200

BECKLEY, WV—A Mercer County, West Virginia man was sentenced today to 235 months in prison for federal firearm and stalking charges. Thomas C. Shrader, 55, of Duhring, was convicted in July for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and in August on two counts of interstate stalking. At sentencing, the Court considered Shrader’s 1975 convictions for two homicides and an unlawful wounding, and deemed Shrader an armed career criminal.

“Today’s sentence will help bring justice to the victims who have endured decades of repeated harassment by Mr. Shrader, both before and after murdering the victim’s mother and friend,” stated United States Attorney Booth Goodwin. “Violent, career criminals are extremely dangerous and pose a serious threat to law abiding citizens. This case is indicative of my office’s commitment to holding these offenders accountable and to protecting the public from further harm.”

According to evidence presented at trial, in July 1975, Shrader, murdered the mother and friend of his high school ex-girlfriend, “DS,” in her presence at her home in North Fork, McDowell County after she tried to end the relationship. Although Shrader pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder in state court, he continued to stalk and harass DS from prison by phone calls and letters. Shrader further filed a frivolous lawsuit against DS for failure to marry him.

DS eventually married RS and the couple was forced to move out of the area to Texas in 1978 to escape Shrader’s harassment. Shrader continued to try and find DS’s location by contacting her family via letters and phone calls through the 1980's. Shrader was eventually paroled from prison in October 1993.

Following his release from prison, Shrader eventually was able to track down DS and her family in Sugarland, Texas through the use of the Internet. Further evidence at trial revealed that Shrader accessed the “MySpace” page of the daughter of DS and RS to obtain family photographs of the victims. Trial testimony also showed that Shrader carried DS’s high school senior photo and the recent family photo of the victims in his wallet and told his friends that DS was still the “love of his life” over 30 years later.

In August 2008, Shrader obtained DS’s unlisted home phone number and began calling her home. Shrader told RS that DS was still “his God” and that he would do anything for her. Receiving no response from DS, in late October 2009, Shrader sent a 32-page ultimatum via United Parcel Service to DS and RS at their home in Texas. Among other things, Shrader demanded that DS resume a relationship with him before Shrader “initiated his next step.” The letter contained numerous threats, including statements that it was time that DS “face the piper” and that she was going to be “Scottie Peterson famous.”

In November 2009, the FBI arrested Shrader for the use of a facility of interstate commerce, UPS, to harass, threaten and intimidate RS and DS. Upon his arrest, agents confiscated three firearms from his home.

At sentencing, United States District Judge Irene C. Berger noted Shrader’s “dangerous obsession with [the victim]” which he pursued for almost 35 years. The judge also noted that despite serving nearly 18 years in prison for the 1975 murders, Shrader had not accepted responsibility for his actions, and the sentence imposed was necessary to deter Shrader from future conduct and to protect the public.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Ryan and John File handled the prosecution.