Former Nez Perce Co. Sheriff's deputy arrested on murder charge

Former Nez Perce Co. Sheriff's deputy arrested on murder charge »Play Video
Joseph A. Thomas booking photo.
LEWISTON - Lewiston Police say the death of a Lewiston woman was a homicide and that her husband is under arrest for the crime.

Police responded to 310 8th Ave. at around 1. a.m Sunday morning. There, they said they found Beth Irby-Thomas, 28, and her ex-husband Joseph A. Thomas. Irby-Thomas was lying on the floor, unconscious.

CPR was performed by Lewiston Police officers and Lewiston Fire Dept. medics. She was transported to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

A third party had reported that Joseph Thomas had left the residence after making statements regarding the death of his ex-wife.

Thomas, 37, a former Nez Perce Co. Sheriff's deputy, was arrested at the scene without incident and booked into the Nez Perce County Jail on one count of first degree murder.

Police say the couple's two small children were removed from the residence and placed with family members. It's believed they were sleeping in another room during the incident.

Lewiston Police detectives collected evidence at the residence and conducted follow-up interviews. Several search warrants were in progress and further interviews are expected, according to police.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday but results are not expected for several days. Police said the preliminary cause is believed to be asphyxiation as a result of strangulation.

Nez Perce County Sheriff's officials said Thomas had been working for Nez Perce Tribal Police when he was hired as a deputy in 2006. They said he was terminated in 2010 based on performance.