Missing escort feared for son's safety

By Anna Leask

Police and forensic experts at Carmen Thomas' house. Photo / Janna Dixon
Police and forensic experts at Carmen Thomas' house. Photo / Janna Dixon

A missing Auckland escort had been living in fear after receiving texts threatening her and her young son.

Police forensic experts were yesterday scouring Carmen Thomas' Remuera home for clues to her disappearance. South-African born Thomas, 32, has not been seen since July 1. The last known contact from the mother-of-one was a text sent to her boss on July 3.

She was reported missing 10 days later and her black Nissan Pulsar car was found abandoned in Hamilton the same day.

The owner of the South Auckland gentlemen's club where Thomas worked said yesterday she had been receiving threatening text messages from a female manager at an escort agency she used to work for.

"They weren't death threats but they were threats towards her. When they started to include her son, she went to police," he said.

"She mentioned that they [the sender] knew where he went to school. After that she went to police. She stood in my doorway shaking and crying [about the threats].

I'd say she was pretty terrified about it all."

The club owner, who spoke to the Herald on Sunday on the condition of anonymity, said the texts stopped after Thomas went to police.

However, she texted him on June 28 saying she had received another message.

"She wanted to speak to a contact of mine in the police again. Unfortunately it was GST time and I'd left it until the last minute so I was battling away with that ... I didn't get around to arranging it. That's playing on my mind quite heavily."

Thomas, who used the name Sam at work, also told one of her colleagues about the texts.

"She was real, real scared about that," the woman said. "She was scared for her son."

Acting Detective Inspector Mark Benefield said last night police had spoken with the woman who sent the texts to Thomas.

"We are comfortable with the explanation she gave. The dispute was over a laptop. Carmen downloaded movies for her son and it cost more than she thought," he said.

"We've spoken to the person concerned and we are comfortable with that aspect."

Police in protective wear and masks yesterday combed Thomas' Ngapuhi Rd address for anything that might lead them to her.

One officer took samples from a brick wall while others collected items from the garage and the area just inside the internal access door.

The owners of the house could not be reached for comment.

Thirteen police in Auckland and Hamilton are now working on the investigation, which is still being classed as a "missing persons" case.

Benefield said it was out of character for her not to contact her son.

"While she was not a full-time mother, she had a shared custody arrangement with the child's father but she has failed to keep her side of the agreement recently. We've been advised that she was unwell towards the end of June and it's possible she has sought medical treatment somewhere in the past two weeks.

"We've done several hospital checks throughout the country over the past three days but none of them have resulted in any information about Carmen."

The club owner said Thomas underwent chemotherapy some years ago and had a weak immune system as a result.

She had been in hospital the week before she went missing and texted him to say she was going to see a specialist in Wellington.

He was the last person to see her before she went missing.

He doubted a client was involved in Thomas' disappearance as she had not been working at the club for very long.

The owner wanted people to put Thomas' occupation aside. "This thing happens and people think, 'Oh, just another dead hooker'. That couldn't be further from the truth. Carmen was a good girl."

Benefield spoke to Thomas' mother in South Africa yesterday and said she was upset about the disappearance.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 20 Apr 2014 03:39:10 Processing Time: 819ms