THEN AND NOW
Wife of Ed Thomas
NOW: Jan Thomas contributed to the book “The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story.” She helped establish the “Ed Thomas Bill” in the Iowa Legislature, requiring law enforcement notification before the release of a patient receiving mental health treatment while facing an arrest warrant or pending charges. With her family, she founded the Ed Thomas Family Foundation, a faith-based organization that helps with scholarships and facilities. The foundation’s website indicates that $16,000 has been awarded to area high school football programs, along with gifts of $10,000 each to Coaches Time Out, Family First, ALS, Gospel for Asia and the Iowa Hall of Pride. Thomas continues to live in Parkersburg.
Son of Ed Thomas. At the time of his father’s death, served as activities director at Union High School in La Porte City.
NOW: The former Drake University basketball player has filled his father’s shoes as activities director at Aplington-Parkersburg. He also coaches boys’ basketball and is stepping into a new role as principal at the school. He is an in-demand public speaker.
Son of Ed Thomas. At the time of his father’s death, was helping coach the football team.
NOW: Thomas works as a financial consultant in Cedar Falls. He is involved in the Ed Thomas Family Foundation. He continues to serve as offensive coordinator for the football team and lives in Parkersburg.
Former Aplington-Parkersburg football player
NOW: Becker was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting of Ed Thomas and sentenced to life in prison. In July 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court turned down an appeal that argued jurors were not made clear of the legal standard for an insanity defense. Becker is serving his sentence at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center.
Parents of Mark Becker
NOW: Spoke with the author for the book “The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story.” Joan speaks at conferences and forums about paranoid schizophrenia, the mental illness that afflicts her son.
PAST ED THOMAS COVERAGE: From the Register archives
ESPN covers game after shooting
On Aug. 28, 2009 — just more than two months after the shooting — Aplington-Parkersburg played football again.
ESPN cameras surrounded the field to carry the game to a national television audience.
National announcers and analysts Rece Davis, Chris Spielman and Herm Edwards explained to the country why the coach the northeast Iowa football program had lost was so special.
“Not to sound too corny,” said Spielman, a college star at Ohio State and later in the NFL, “but I told my kids and I believe it — ‘This is good triumphing over evil.’ “
Aplington-Parkersburg beat Dike-New Hartford, 30-14.
RELATED STORY: Ed Thomas’ legacy lives on
Book by killer’s mother out soon
Joan Becker, the mother of the former player who murdered coach Ed Thomas, has written a book about the hurdles faced by families dealing with mental illness.
The book’s working title, Joan Becker said, is “My Bleeding Heart: Finding the Light Beyond the Storm.”
There is no official release date yet, but Becker said she expects it to be available relatively soon.
Becker said the majority of proceeds from the book will be used to support individuals and families dealing with mental health issues.
Ed Thomas Remembered in media
• David Bingham, the Ankeny softball coach, produced a two-hour documentary in 2009 called “Touchdown in the Heartland.” DVDs of the film were sold at Casey’s General Store locations. Bingham, who has an extensive career in broadcast journalism, followed the Aplington-Parkersburg football team in Thomas’ final season in the wake of the Parkersburg tornado. “It was probably the greatest accomplishment of my professional career,” Bingham said.
• A Sports Illustrated cover piece on Ed Thomas and the community called “A Good Man Down” ran in July 2009.
• The Thomas family was honored by ESPN’s “Espy” Awards in 2010. The Arthur Ashe Courage Award went to the Thomases for Ed Thomas’ leadership following the 2008 tornado and for the compassion and forgiveness the Thomas family exercised after his murder.
• A 2011 book, “The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story,” was written by Mark Tabb with the Thomas family. Aaron Thomas said he frequently hears from people from other states who have read and enjoyed the book.