Updated: 08/07/2013 7:40 AM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough
Cold Spring police officer Tom Decker was shot and killed in the line of duty last November. It's been 10 months, and no one has been charged in his murder.
There's now a new development in Tom Decker's murder case. Officials say a person of interest for months is now their prime suspect. The problem is-he's dead too.
Early in the investigation, agents talked with Eric Thomes. They later came back a second time with more questions and plans to arrest him.
But Thomes took his own life before police could take him away.
Up until now, investigators referred to Thomes as a "person of interest." But in a document released by the BCA Tuesday, they label him the prime suspect.
For Billy Decker, it's closure to know who the BCA believes killed his brother, but it's not much comfort, "It ain't gonna bring my brother back, that's the whole thing."
He didn't hold back when he reflected on that November night last year, when his younger brother, Tom Decker, died from a shotgun blast in a dark alley behind a Cold Spring bar.
Tom Decker and a partner stopped by on a welfare check of an upstairs apartment, "Why would he call my brother and Greg to the area, what would Thomes be doing there with a shotgun in that area in the first place?"
During the chaos to find a cop killer, police arrested Ryan Larson who lived above the bar.
Days later he was free from jail but not from suspicion. Larson insisted they had the wrong guy. He was never charged with that crime.
Tom Decker's brother wondered if there was a rush to judgment, "You don't want to put somebody life in prison when he could be innocent."
The state's top investigators at the BCA took over. Their suspicions and a trail of evidence led them to another suspect-Thomes.
Thomes and Decker knew each other since high school. Decker went on to become a law enforcer, and Thomes, a chronic law breaker.
Thomes was wanted for a different crime when agents came to his home back in January.
That's when Thomes ran to a garage and committed suicide. The gun used to kill Decker was found nearby, "What really gets me so angry is somebody has to kill my brother and then kills himself."
Depriving the Deckers, the community of Cold Spring and the entire state of ever knowing why Tom Decker was killed.
Stearns County is keeping two investigators on the case with the goal of getting one more answer: did the shooter act alone?
If not, there could be possible prosecution in the future.
There was a $100,000 reward in the case. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has confirmed none of that money has been paid out.
The Thomes family had no comment.