ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – More search warrants and their returns have been released to the media as police continue to investigate the murder of Abilene realtor Tom Niblo.
Niblo was shot and killed while in bed at his home on the 3700 block of Woodridge Drive the morning of December 12, 2016.
A search warrant detectives filed just hours after Niblo’s death gives insight on what happened during the murder.
The warrant says that just before Niblo was shot, his wife Cheryl Niblo had gone to the restroom, taking her cell phone with her. She told detectives that she then heard several gunshots and ran out the backdoor to a neighbor’s house. Both her phone and Niblo’s phone were left at the murder scene, and neither devices were used to call law enforcement, according to the warrant, which also states “the investigation did not reveal any evidence of why or how [Cheryl] removed herself from the bedroom at the exact time the Thomas Niblo was shot to death.”
Several court documents state there was no sign of forced entry at the crime scene.
A return from that search warrant shows detectives seized the following items from the Niblo residence:
- prescription pills, several spent .40 shell casings, spent bullets. a bloody pillow with a bullet hole (found on bed), two smart phones (one found in bathroom, one found in bedroom), a .40 caliber pistol with holster and magazine, bloody bed clothes, two laptops, three thumb drives, a bloody comforter (found in entry way), a machete, swabs from doorknobs around the house as well as the gate latch and handle of the machete, swabs from the bullet casings, and a shoe imprint from the bathroom door.
Police have been investigating Niblo’s brother-in-law Luke Sweetser, 45, as a suspect in the murder because they were involved in a family dispute over the execution of Niblo’s late father’s will. Sweetser was upset because his wife and Niblo’s sister, Ellousie Niblo Sweetser, had been excluded as an executor of the will, according to court documents.
On December 14th, detectives filed a search warrant to gain access to the entire 4th floor of the Alexander Building on Pine Street in downtown Abilene because, according to the warrant, Niblo was letting the Sweetsers use several suites on that floor for storage since they weren’t being rented. The warrant also states that several employees had seen the Sweetsers coming in and out of buildings on that floor.
A return from that search warrant shows detectives seized the following items from the 4th floor of the Alexander building:
- a modem, financial papers, over a dozen flash drives, hard drives, a computer tower, and SD cards.
During the investigation into Niblo’s murder, police learned that Sweetser was involved in another crime. Detectives discovered several stolen firearms belonging to local attorney Randy Wilson inside Sweetser’s safe at a warehouse owned by the Niblo family on the 300 block of Mesquite Street. On December 14th detectives filed a search warrant to seize the stolen firearms from the safe.
A return from that search warrant shows detectives seized the following items from the Sweetser safe at a warehouse on the 300 block of Mesquite Street:
- several stolen guns, $6,000 in cash, more guns that were not stolen along with ammo and accessories, and a lock box with important documents and identifying information belonging to Luke and Ellouise Sweetser.
Luke Sweetser was arrested and charged with Theft of a Firearm following the execution of that search warrant.
On December 15th, detectives also filed search warrants to gain access to electronic data and other information stored on several electronic devices and phones seized from the Sweetser family. Returns show detectives were granted access to that information.
Another search warrant was filed to seize the shoes Sweetser was wearing when he was arrested for Theft of a Firearm. Police were allowed to seize those shoes.
No arrests have been made in connection to Niblo’s murder. Police told KTAB and KRBC Sweetser is not the only suspect in Niblo’s murder.
Detectives also requested phone records from a man who was previously in a relationship with one of Niblo’s daughters because he was upset about the relationship ending and was in contact with Niblo days before the murder.
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