FORT WORTH (CBS 11 News) ― Police thought it was murder, but now investigators believe a North Texas businessman killed himself and made it look like a homicide.
Police say the incident is almost identical to an episode of C.S.I. entitled "Home Bodies." However, they can't prove that Thomas Hickman ever watched the show.
When Hickman's body was found in March, they originally called it a homicide. The 55-year-old Richland Hills businessman had duct tape over his mouth, and he had been shot in the back of the head.
But as investigators looked closer at the evidence, they changed their minds.
"In both scenarios, a man committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a lightweight handgun, and tying that gun to some helium balloons for the purpose of having that gun float away," said Agent Shum. "The reason for that is to make it look as if it's a homicide."
Half a dozen white helium balloons were tangles in a cactus off U.S. Highway 84 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The gun was about 30 feet from Hickman's body and the serial number had been removed.
"We later were able to recover that serial number at our state crime lab, and we found out that Thomas Hickman had bought that gun in January," said Agent Eric Shum, New Mexico State Police.
Agent Schum said investigators' suspicions were further confirmed when they found metal shavings from the gun in Hickman's garage.
That combined with a lot of other evidence helped them solve the case, just like on C.S.I.
Hickman worked as the west Texas operations manager for Red Lobster. Police say his life insurance police would have paid his wife twice as much if his death had been accidental. A family friend said his wife is very upset by these developments.
(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)