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Text messages between adoptive parents reveal new details in death of 7-year-old Spring boy, court documents show

Troy Khoeler, 7, was found dead in a washing machine in his Spring home after his adoptive parents reported him missing earlier that morning.

HOUSTON — Court documents revealed new details after the adoptive parents of a 7-year-old boy who was found dead in a washing machine in their Spring home were arrested.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced the arrest on Tuesday afternoon.

Jemaine Thomas, 42, and Tiffany Thomas, 35, were arrested after the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences ruled 7-year-old Troy Khoeler's death a homicide.

Jemaine Thomas appeared before a judge early Wednesday. Tiffany Thomas did not appear due to mental health reasons. 

RELATED: HCSO: Parents of 7-year-old Spring boy found dead in washing machine arrested

Jemaine Thomas is charged with capital murder. Tiffany Thomas is charged with injury to a child by omission, according to court documents.

Bond was set at $2 million for Jemaine Thomas. The bond for Tiffany Thomas was set at $250,000. The judge said bond conditions were the same for both of them:

  • He must surrender his passport, 
  • His traffic is restricted to Harris County
  • He is not allowed to consume drugs or alcohol, 
  • He is not allowed to have a firearm
  • He must wear a GPS monitor
  • He has a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m.
  • He is not allowed any contact with anyone under 17 years old
  • He is not allowed to go within 1,000 feet of a school or child places.

New details revealed

WARNING: The details revealed below are graphic.

The sheriff said an autopsy revealed that Khoeler suffered new and old injuries before his body was found in the washing machine.

According to court documents, Troy’s adoptive father intentionally and knowingly caused the 7-year-old’s death by submerging his nose and mouth underwater and hitting him with an unknown object.

Court documents also revealed that the boy’s adoptive mother intentionally and knowingly caused bodily injury by hitting Troy against an unknown object as well.

When deputies pulled the 7-year-old from the washing machine, his arms and legs were warm, but his body was cold, according to court documents. They also noticed blood around his nose and a large bump on his forehead, over the right eye.

Deputies noted that the boy’s clothing was damp and there was an odor of urine coming from the body. His pants also had been pulled down to his knees, exposing bruises to his upper legs.

Deputies spotted a red stain on the base of the drum in the washing machine. They determined that this, along with the smell of urine, meant that the washing machine had not been run through a wash cycle.

Deputies also spotted blood stains on a door frame in the kitchen and a cardboard box lid in the kitchen.

Investigators reviewed a text message thread between the couple, which revealed that the adoptive mother threaten the 7-year-old by telling him she was going to “put him in the stove and turn it on” if he did not admit to eating her oatmeal crème pies. The adoptive father responded, “I need to get the (locks). I’m going to end up kill(ing) him. You going to come home and he going to be hang(ing) from the tree outside.”

Another message from Jemaine Thomas said, “I’m for not doing (expletive) for his birthday. I’m so sick of this boy. Like, I’m really tired of him and don’t want him in this house no more.”

Court documents also revealed that there were two investigations by Child Protective Services prior to the death of the 7-year-old. The investigations were initiated by school employees who spotted suspicious injuries on him, including blackened eyes and facial bruising.

What happened

On July 28, Khoeler was reported missing from his home before he was later found dead at that same home on Rosegate Drive in the Birnam Wood subdivision of Spring.

Jemaine Thomas said he could not find the 7-year-old after returning home just before midnight the night before. That’s when he said he noticed his front door was unlocked.

"It's just that I came home, I was fixin’ to walk in the door, like right now," he said. "I don't have my keys but I put my keys to the door handle and then it just opened. Anything else after that, I don't know."

The adoptive parents were detained and questioned on the day his body was found and they were later released.

RELATED: Parents of 7-year-old Spring boy found dead in washing machine released after questioning

Investigators said the Thomas' called 911 in the early morning hours of July 28 to report him missing. Just a few hours later, Precinct 4 deputies found his fully clothed and lifeless body inside the washing machine.

In July, a spokesperson with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said "CPS does have history with the family." 

Khoeler was a student at Spring ISD. The district released the following statement:

"Spring ISD continues to keep our thoughts and prayers for the students and staff directly affected by the passing of Troy Koehler. This remains a great loss for our district, and as more details become known, we will continue to provide ongoing counseling and grief services."

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