Visalia man found guilty for murdering estranged wife

Thomas Van Es of Visalia receives guilty verdict for murdering his wife with a shotgun wound to the head

VISALIA – Thomas Van Es is facing a lifetime in prison for killing his former wife just five months after their separation.

Van Es, 41, was found guilty at the Tulare County Superior Court on Feb. 6. The trial started Jan. 31 and concluded with jurors finding Van Es guilty of first-degree murder with the special allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, resulting in death. His sentencing is scheduled for March 23, where he faces life in prison.

According to the Tulare County District Attorney’s office, Van Es and his wife separated in January 2022. About five months later, in June, he sent her a series of text messages insisting they meet to speak in person. She eventually agreed to meet him but did not return home afterwards. Her body was found the following morning with an apparent gunshot wound to the head, consistent with that of a shotgun.

Thomas Van Es, age 41

Following this circumstance, Van Es was contacted by law enforcement. He admitted to messaging the victim about meeting up but denied that he left his home that evening. However, video surveillance revealed that contrary to his statement, he left his home late that evening and did not return until nearly midnight.

The video captured a shotgun in the bed of his truck as he pulled back into his driveway. Through investigation, officers discovered a shotgun hidden behind the seats of the Van Es’ truck with a single expended shell still in the firearm. This was the same weapon that was used to kill the victim. Additionally, DNA evidence collected on scene indicated that he was present at the location where the victim was found. 

The case was prosecuted by senior deputy district attorney Adam Clare and investigated by detective Luis Berrocales of the Visalia Police Department.

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