Non-binary school student stabbed mother 118 times, asked emergency services to ‘bring a body-bag’

Rowan Thompson, who was later found dead in a mental health facility, brutally murdered Joanna Thompson, 50, in July 2019 in her village home


                            Non-binary school student stabbed mother 118 times, asked emergency services to ‘bring a body-bag’
(Getty Images)

A private school student, who identified as non-binary, allegedly strangled as well as stabbed his mother more than 100 times before calling 999 to say, “bring a body-bag”, an inquest was told on December 14. Rowan Thompson brutally murdered Joanna Thompson on July 1, 2019, in her village home in England. The teenager was visiting the 50-year-old and after coming back from a jog with her, he attacked her.

It has been said that Joanna was strangled to unconsciousness by Rowan, who “10 or 15 minutes later” pierced the victim’s forehead 38 times using a knife, stabbed 64 times her neck, and 16 times to the arm. After the attack, at 12:45 noon the 17-year-old dialed 999 in a “calm, unemotional and quite ordinary manner” and said “I've just killed my mum.... I strangled her and I've been stabbing her with various knives and whatnot”, The Daily Mail reported. Rowan was arrested at the home in Hambledon, Hampshire, and the cop who detained him said he was “extremely calm and composed” and “seemed to be more concerned about his cat”. However, before he stood his trial, he was found dead in October while in custody at a secure mental health facility.

The inquest into the death case of Joanna -- who by profession was a speech therapist -- heard that the accused was living with his father, a magician, in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and before the murder, he visited her for the weekend. The two had “stressful” conversations about his living arrangements due to which Rowan believed his mother was “controlling and over-bearing”. It was also said that the pupil had a history of mental health as he was earlier admitted to mental health hospitals following a suicide attempt and suffered depressive bouts. After his arrest, Rowan told cops that he felt “strange” while returning from jogging with Joanna and “could not remember anything” until he reached the police station.

The 999 call was also played at Winchester Coroner's Court in which the accused was heard saying, “I've just killed my mum. I need someone to arrest me as that's what you do and an ambulance would be nice. I strangled her and I've been stabbing her with various knives and whatnot. My younger brother is at school, he's due back later tonight. She's not breathing... bring a body-bag or whatever you do. I'm 99.9 percent sure she's not breathing. I started strangling her, she fell to the floor. I strangled her a bit more and stopped... then I kept my hands around her. Then I started stabbing her and whatnot... She's in the living room.” He added at the time, “I'm down for the weekend, I had a meal and went to the cinema with my best friends which was really nice.” Rowan also said to the dispatcher that he “put the knives in the dishwasher just in case”.

Joanna’s sister, Sophie Rugge-Price, said her nephew recently shifted to Barnsley, South Yorkshire, with his father Marc Thompson to get help related to his mental health. “In the last couple of years Rowan was showing signs of being depressed and showing suicidal tendencies, he had to be admitted to hospital. She found it difficult, he was seeing counselors. He changed his name and gender,” Rugge-Price stated before adding: “He was never hostile towards her but she talked about being on eggshells around him, he would get upset about things and she was never sure what would upset.” The sister also said that the victim told her “slightly strange comments in the weeks before her death”. “Jo told me if anything ever happens to her what she would like me to do with her son. I didn't ask about it, I wish I had. When [police] said Rowan was being held it completely shocked me and I was really sad for Rowan. It was totally out of my imagination,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr John Sandford, a psychiatrist, said the alleged murderer had minor autism but “there was nothing to suggest he was suffering from abnormal mental functioning” when Joanna was killed. But Marc opposed Sandford’s report as two other psychiatrist reports made by Rowan’s defense counsel in court were not read out. “For [Dr Sandford's] report to be read into the record as a standalone is very biased when there were two other professionals who had opposing views. They said he was mentally incapacitated at the time,” the father said.

Coroner Jason Pegg, who recorded a verdict of the murder, said, “It seems no one will ever know why [Thompson killed her]. The only person who knows is Rowan and he's going to be unable to tell us. The evidence I have heard seems to me to suggest that Jo never had any concerns about his conduct towards her, there was no history of hostility towards her. Around 12.45pm on July 1 Rowan dialled 999. In that call he appears in a calm, unemotional and quite ordinary manner to tell the call handler exactly what he has done. He said he made sure that she was not breathing. Jo remained in a state of unconsciousness when Rowan took a knife and stabbed his mother 118 times. The main focus of Rowan's attention was him stabbing his mother's neck.”

Rowan was about to stand a trial into the murder case, but was found dead at Prestwich Hospital, Greater Manchester, on October 3, which led to a probe by authorities. Authorities called his death non-suspicious. Reports said that an inquest into his death will be held in 2021 in Greater Manchester.

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