ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY NEWS RELEASE
Case # 12ZF0154
Date: November 9, 2016
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was convicted today of the shooting-murder of his live-in girlfriend during a confrontation after listening to a Guns N’ Roses song. Thomas Michael Wilhelm, 52, Costa Mesa, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of first-degree murder and a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death was found to be true. He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison at his sentencing on Feb. 3, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-45, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 6:25 p.m. on July 8, 2012, Wilhelm entered a neighbor’s home on Redwood Avenue in Costa Mesa and stole a handgun. The defendant returned to his own home to kill his live-in girlfriend and business partner of three years, 45-year-old Christine Murray. The victim sent text messages to a friend eleven minutes before her murder stating Wilhelm was intoxicated, loudly playing and singing along to a Guns N’ Roses song with the lyrics, “I used to love her, but I had to kill her.” Wilhelm then entered the victim’s bedroom, pulled out the firearm, and shot the victim six times. Since he had run out of ammunition, Wilhelm returned to his neighbor’s home, stole a shotgun, and fired one round into the ground as he unsuccessfully attempted to shoot himself.
Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) officers arrived at the defendant’s home minutes after the initial shooting in response to third party 911 calls. Officers heard the shotgun discharge in Wilhelm’s neighbor’s back yard when they arrived, and they made entry into the victim’s residence. They found Murray in her bedroom, unconscious with multiple gunshot wounds to her chest. CMPD officers arrested the defendant and recovered the firearms. The victim was rushed to Western Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff
Public Affairs Unit