Monday, August 7, 2023

The Disappearance and Murder of Desiree Thompson

Desiree Thompson (30) vanished under suspicious circumstances on January 7th, 2012. While she was missing, it was reported that Desiree last seen that evening after a frightening incident with her estranged ex-husband, Edward 'Face' Gibson III. There were reportedly several instances of domestic violence and encounters with the police throughout Desiree's relationship with Gibson. On the night of her disappearance, Gibson showed up at Desiree's home in California City, California unannounced. When Desiree answered the door, Gibson pointed a shotgun at her face. 

It appears that no shots were actually fired at that time, as Desiree was seen alive just a few hours after that incident. After that last sighting, she was never seen or heard from again.

Edward 'Face' Gibson III

Desiree is the niece of songwriter/producer Kenneth Howard Smith - who is most famously known for his work on Motown and D-Town Records. Smith reportedly used his numerous resources to help spread awareness about Desiree's disappearance, but unfortunately very few leads and clues turned up. Investigators also been searching for Gibson, who also vanished on the evening of Desiree's disappearance. 

It is believed that Gibson is on the run. He is wanted on charges of burglary, domestic violence, violating a court order, brandishing a firearm, and possessing a firearm as a felon. For years, Gibson also remained the only person of interest in Desiree's disappearance. 

However, over a decade later, the case would have an unexpected twist. A man named Jose William Lara (60) was arrested and charged with Desiree's murder. In the weeks and months that followed, the truth about what happened to Desiree was revealed.


March 2022: A critical tip leads to remains and an arrest.

During March of 2022, investigators received a tip that led them to a home in California City. A man named Jose William Lara, now 60, used to live in said residence. While there, investigators found blood splatters in the master bedroom and human remains in the backyard. The remains were not immediately identified, but Lara was subsequently arrested and charged with Desiree’s murder.

Jose Lara in court. (source)

It took months, but in July 2022, the remains were finally confirmed to be that of Desiree Nicole Thompson. The news of Desiree’s death AND the arrest of Lara has come as a shock to Desiree’s loved ones. For years, many believed that Desiree’s ex-husband Edward Gibson III was responsible for her disappearance. However, according to court documents, Desiree was the victim of an unfortunate attack by a stranger.

Lara's confession to an informant.

The court documents also state that police learned about Lara's potential involvement in Desiree's case after they were contacted by an informant. The informant told police that Lara had described, in detail, how he murdered a woman matching Desiree's description and then buried the woman in the backyard of his old residence. 

Lara was reportedly angry on the evening of Desiree's murder. He reportedly told the informants that he was at a party that evening, but while there, he was assaulted by three individuals who told him he was not welcome. Lara then left the party but returned to a nearby area a short time later in search of the people who assaulted him. While waiting, he came across two individuals - one who matched Desiree's description.

Lara told the informants that he was angry about being assaulted and wanted to get revenge - and it did not matter who received it. He subsequently invited Desiree over to his house under the guise of drinking beers together. Lara said that once she was there, he bashed Desiree's head into a mini-fridge and then stabbed her to death. Later, he buried her in his backyard. 


The conviction.

Although Lara confessed to the informant, he pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. He went to trial in May of 2023. During court proceedings, the prosecutors presented the aforementioned evidence provided by the informant. The fact that Desiree's remains were found in Lara's previous backyard also helped the prosecution's case. 

The defense continued to argue that Desiree's ex-husband, Gibson, was the true murderer. However, the jury ultimately sided with the prosecution and found Lara guilty of Desiree's murder. He was later sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. 

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