Local man sentenced to life for murdering wife

Thomas Van Es is sentenced to 50 years-to-life in prison for murdering his wife with a shotgun in 2022


VISALIA – After denying his guilt, investigators found the shotgun used to kill his wife and other evidence ultimately leading a jury to convict him of the crime.

On March 23, a judge with the Tulare County Superior Court, Visalia Division, sentenced Thomas Van Es, 41, to 50 years-to-life in prison for the 2022 murder of his wife. The trial began on Jan. 31, and concluded with jurors finding Van Es guilty on Feb. 6, of first-degree murder with the special allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing death.

Van Es had separated from the victim, his wife, in January 2022. On June 9, 2022, he sent her a series of text messages insisting that they meet up in person to talk. She eventually agreed to meet him and did not return home afterwards. Her body was located the following morning with an apparent gunshot wound to her head consistent with a shotgun.

Van Es was contacted by law enforcement and admitted to messaging the victim about meeting with her but denied that he left his home that evening. Video surveillance showed that contrary to his statement, he had 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. Officers located a shotgun hidden behind the seats of the Van Es’ truck with a single expended shell still in the firearm – the same type used to kill the victim. 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 was investigated by detective Luis Berrocales of the Visalia Police Department.

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