Vero Beach Fugitive Caught After Two-Year Hunt

Former treasure hunter and Vero Beach, Florida resident Tommy Thompson, was finally apprehended by U.S. Marshals in West Boca Raton, Florida following a 2-year manhunt, the TCPalm reports. Mr. Thompson’s accomplice, Alison Antekeier, was caught at the same time, both of whom were on the run after failing to appear in civil court.

Mr. Thompson is best known for making headlines in 1988 when he discovered the SS Central America near the coast of South Carolina. In addition to the sunken ship being a historic discovery, it was literally a gold repository as Mr Thompson and his team found gold bars and coins worth millions in the vessel.

Although Thompson would later sell the lot for $50 million, his troubles with gold didn’t end there. Prior to his great discovery, Tommy Thompson made a living as a treasure hunter by partnering with investors. Unfortunately, he didn’t generate a decent return most of the time. Add to that Thompson’s alleged lack of repayment to said investors and a predictable litigation process ensued.

The former owner of a sprawling Vero Beach mansion, named Gracewood, Tommy Thompson was ultimately found 100 miles south in West Boca Raton at a Hilton. The beach town is on the east coast of Florida and known for its natural scenery, prime real estate, and wildlife; however, oil exploration was recently encouraged in the area, potentially threatening local habitats, as Inquisitr reported.

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A considerable distance from the coastal waters of Vero Beach, Boca Raton was the location chosen by U.S. Marshals to capture Thompson after tracking his movement. Mr. Thompson did not appear for his 2012 civil court date in Ohio, which was what set the nationwide manhunt in motion. Previously, U.S. Marshals unsuccessfully tried to apprehend Thompson and his accomplice despite searches in multiple states.

When asked about the challenges officials faced while pursuing Thompson, individuals involved in the case noted the suspect’s very high intellect. As stated by his realtor, Vance Brinkerhoff, “He was a wild professor.” Thompson’s active mind and high intelligence may have contributed to his tendency to isolate. As officials acknowledged, Thompson’s lack of socialization prolonged the search.

Both Tommy Thompson and Alison Antekeier are in custody, with the former conducting his initial federal court appearance and the latter awaiting an extradition hearing. Brinkerhoff laments Thompson’s inability to mesh well with society, as he believes Thompson was an asset to the community who could have made a positive impact in Vero Beach.