Hatchet killer who used Scientology as his defense after chopping his sister-in-law and her boyfriend to death, pouring acid on their corpses and setting their home on fire is murdered in prison
A Missouri inmate on death row for butchering his sister-in-law and her boyfriend – who blamed the grisly killings on his beliefs in Scientology – was found murdered in prison.
Kenneth W. Thompson, 38, was found dead around 1 p.m. Wednesday his assigned 86 square-foot, single man cell housing unit at Arizona State Prison Eyman in Florence, the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry said.
Two inmates were responsible ‘for the attack’ and were identified by prison guards, but there were no further details released. Thompson’s death is being investigated as a homicide.
The prison could not be reached by DailyMail.com for comment at press time.
Kenneth Thompson, 38 (pictured) was on death row drove after killing his sister-in-law and her boyfriend with a hatchet before pouring acid on their bodies and setting their home ablaze
Thompson’s lawyers didn’t dispute that he killed the pair when Thompson (pictured) went to trial in 2019. They argued that his faith in Scientology compelled the killing
Thompson’s body was discovered around 1 p.m. on Wednesday in his housing unit at the Arizona State Prison in Eyeman, pictured
In 2012, Thompson drove non-stop for 24 hours from his home in rural Missouri to the home of Penelope Edwards and Troy Dunn in Prescott Valley, Arizona, after the avowed Scientologist learned that his nephew was prescribed psychiatric medication.
Thompson hacked to death Edwards and Dunn on March 16, pouring acid on their bodies and torching their home to cover his tracks.
He was captured by police while driving back home on I-40 after neighbors reported the house fire. A search of his vehicle revealed the hatchet with human hair and blood on its blade.
Neither child was in the house at the time of the murders – his nephew was checked into a Phoenix hospital for mental health treatment.
Both children were away from the home from the time of the murders, including hia nephew who was at a Phoenix hospital for mental health treatment.
It took seven years for his case to go to trial, and the jury found him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, arson and several other felonies. That jury also decided to impose the death penalty.
It is unclear when Thompson was scheduled to be executed, but according to the Arizona Department of Corrections, the average length of time from sentencing to execution is over 17 years.
His lawyers didn’t dispute that Thompson killed the pair when he went on trial in 2019. However, they argued that Thompson felt compelled to rescue his nephew and niece from a spiritual death because Scientologists believe that taking psychiatric medication is ‘evil and a scam,’ and jeopardizes the eternal soul.
Thompson was raised a Scientologist, but was not practicing the religion at the time of the murders.
Penelope Edwards and her boyfriend Troy Dunn were slain by Thompson is 2012
Thompson’s attorneys argued that he intended to bribe Edwards (pictured) into sending her children to live with him in Missouri
Thompson’s attorneys asserted that the murder wasn’t premeditated, arguing that he only intended to confront Edwards.
Thompson’s then-wife, Gloria, didn’t know where he was when he drove out to Arizona. He told her that he was traveling to Memphis to settle legal issues regarding his parents’ estate. Before he set out on the 1,400 mile drive, he purchased a new cell phone.
As he drove toward Memphis, he impulsively decided to bear west toward Arizona at a junction on Interstate 40, his attorneys said. He stayed at a motel, and bought the hatchet and a change of clothes at a nearby Walmart.
He took a taxi to Edwards’ house, where his attorneys claimed he planned to bribe the women to let him take her children back to Missouri with him.
In direct testimony, Thompson said the conversation turned violent and he attacked in the heat of passion.
His lawyers had sought a conviction for manslaughter. Instead, the jury found him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to death.
Pictured is the Church of Scientology building in Los Angeles