SPOKANE, Wash - He was convicted of one of the most notorious crimes in Spokane history. Now, former sheriff's deputy turned convicted killer Thomas Dibartolo is one step closer to release, serving out his remaining time at a work release facility in Yakima. But, according to jail records, his work release has already been suspended.
Dibartolo was convicted of shooting his wife Patty in the head and shooting himself to cover up the crime. It happened on November 2, 1996 in Lincoln Park on Spokane's south hill. At the time, Dibartolo told police two black men had robbed them, shooting him and Patty in the process. That led to a months-long manhunt until Dibartolo was finally arrested in January 1997.
The Dibartolos had five children together; several of them testified that they were scared of their father and wanted him to stay locked up.
During his trial, prosecutors presented a motive for the crime, saying Dibartolo was unfaithful and that he wanted to kill Patty and collect her life insurance payout in order to avoid a costly divorce.
He was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison.
Because he was a law enforcement officer, Dibartolo has been serving his time at a prison in Rhode Island. Over the years, he has filed several appeals and has never admitted to killing Patty. He even wrote letters to 4 News Now journalists, asking for information that might help his appeal.
He's nearing the end of his sentence and is scheduled to be released from custody in February 2020.
In the meantime, though, he was moved to a new home in Yakima. Acting on a tip, 4 News Now learned that Dibartolo was moved in August to the Ahtanum View Work Release facility in Yakima. According to the Department of Corrections, it's a facility that houses both men and women and has programs that specialize in anger management, family and personal counseling and substance abuse treatment. Offenders can leave the facility for work, shopping, pre-approved outings and visits with family.
4 News Now started asking for details of his release conditions Monday afternoon. Coincidentally, right around the same time we started asking, Dibartolo was being booked into the Yakima County Jail. His booking is listed as "work release suspension."
We asked DOC why he would have been booked and if he violated the conditions of his work release. We're still waiting for an answer and will update with new information as we get it.
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