Murder of David Thomas by Mark Twilegar spotlighted on Buried in the Backyard

Mugshot of Mark Twilegar
Mark Twilegar was sentenced to death for shooting David Thomas. Pic credit: FL Dept. of Corrections

Buried in the Backyard is examining the horrific murder of attorney David Thomas, who was shot before being buried alive by Mark “Vinny” Twilegar in Fort Myers, Florida.

In August 2002, Twilegar was living in a tent beside a property in Fort Myers and had started performing handyman work for Thomas.

Thomas had recently acquired another house in Montgomery, Alabama, and had asked Twilegar to work on renovating that property. The pair had even traveled to Alabama together to discuss the details.

On August 7, 2002, Thomas disappeared. His girlfriend met him shortly before he vanished and noticed he had a large amount of cash. He said he was going to meet with Twilegar and buy a truck for the handyman to use on the Alabama job.

Spencer MacArthur was moving into the house beside the land where Twilegar had pitched his tent. One day in September, he noticed Twilegar digging on the land near his tent. The killer told Spencer he was expecting a drug dealer to come by, so he offered him $100 to leave for a few hours.

A few weeks later, Twilegar had vanished from the area and the disappearance of Thomas was made public. Spencer began excavating the area where he saw Twilegar digging, and he uncovered Thomas’s remains.

Mark Twilegar killed David Thomas execution-style

The police believe 55-year-old Thomas was shot in the back with a shotgun and that he was kneeling at the time.

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An autopsy revealed wet sand, dirt, and hemorrhaging in his airway, indicating he was still alive when placed in the shallow grave, although he was likely unconscious.

Twilegar was apprehended a short time later on a campsite in Greenville, Tennessee.

Mark Twilegar was sentenced to death for David Thomas murder

In 2007, Twilegar was convicted of premeditated murder and was subsequently sentenced to death.

In 2015, it was announced that the US Supreme Court would review Twilegar’s death sentence.

At the time, Thomas’s widow, Mary Lehman, condemned the review, stating, “The idea that he would go free, or spend life in jail rather than punished the way I think he should be, breaks my heart, and it makes me almost physically sick to think about it.”

She added, “I’m not sure what the purpose of having a trial and a sentence is if, ‘Oh, by the way, this doesn’t count anymore.”

According to Florida Department of Corrections records, Twilegar has since passed away.

This episode of Buried in the Backyard airs Friday at 8/7c on Oxygen.

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