Little Hope of Collecting $2.6 Billion Judgment

     AUBURN, Neb. (CN) — A Nebraska jury Wednesday awarded a family a symbolic $2.6 billion wrongful death judgment from a man who never faced criminal charges for their daughter’s death.
     Tyler Thomas disappeared from Peru State College in 2010 when she was 19. Her body has never been found.
     Police investigation and an insurance lawsuit filed in 2014 indicate that a fellow student, Joshua Keadle, was suspected. He lived on the same floor of a dormitory with Thomas and was reportedly the last person to see her alive.
     Keadle, 34, is serving 15 to 20 years in state prison for the 2008 rape of a 15-year-old girl at Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Neb.
     He had previously been charged with sexual assault in Auburn, near Peru State College, but those charges were dropped. He also had been charged with indecent exposure in Norfolk, Neb.
     In the 2014 lawsuit, Travelers Insurance said it had no duty to defend Peru State because the school knew of Keadle’s history as a sex offender when it admitted him and housed him in a mixed-sex dormitory.
     Thomas’s family almost certainly will never see any of the $2.6 billion the Nemaha County jury awarded them, but their attorney Vince Powers told the Omaha World-Herald, “It’s important that the family knows that Tyler’s not forgotten and her life had value.”
     Keadle claimed they had consensual sex in his car on a Missouri River boat ramp, and that he left Thomas at the river alive after she threatened to accuse him of rape.
     Thomas was black. Keadle is white. An all-woman jury awarded the damages.

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