The Hit on the Hot-rodder

Photo courtesy of Guest Blogger

Mickey Thompson achieved the fast track to success literally– it was the fast track that brought him success. Viewed as an almost godlike figure in the auto racing world, he lived and loved life in the fast lane. Among his many innovations to the sport were the “slingshot” dragster and the home-built “Challenger 1,” which in 1960 became the first automobile to break the 400 mph barrier. Mickey’s pioneering designs changed the face of racing, and he also proved he was an adept businessman as he created a successful indoor stadium-racing venture.

Mickey Thompson was considered unbeatable in a race car. The king of the motorway, however, was killed in his driveway by men riding bicycles.

On March 16, 1988, police responded to calls of shots coming from the Thompson’s home in the predawn hours. Upon arriving, they found Mickey and his wife Trudy lying dead on their driveway. Each had been shot to death.

Despite a massive investigation, the case grew cold.

Mickey and Trudy Thompson lived in a wooded mountainous area near Bradbury, California, an affluent city in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County, approximately 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on March 16, 1988, area residents awoke to the sounds of gunshots. One resident ran to his window and heard Mickey screaming, “Please don’t hurt my wife. Please don’t hurt my wife.” The neighbor then heard another series of shots followed by silence. He grabbed his gun as his wife called the police. When he returned to the window, he saw two black men on bicycles speeding from the Thompson residence. He yelled at them and fired several shots, but the men did not flinch one iota.

By the time police arrived, Mickey and Trudy were both dead. Trudy lay at the bottom of the driveway while Mickey had been killed near the garage. Trudy was shot as she backed their van out of the garage, and Mickey was shot as he walked out.

Trudy was wearing over $70,000 worth of jewelry, and, between them, the Thompsons were carrying about $4,000 in cash. The house was undisturbed. The crime clearly couldn’t be classed as a robbery gone wrong. Police believe the killers had hidden in the woods, waiting for the Thompsons to come out of their home.

Several people saw the shooters racing from the murder scene on bicycles. Composite sketches were created based on witness descriptions.

The men are both black and about 6’0 tall. In 1988, they were in their 20s or 30s, in good physical shape, although one was slightly stockier than the other. They were wearing dark-colored jogging suits and were skilled at riding bicycles. The perpetrators may have made their getaway in a 1988 white Mazda, perhaps driven by a third man who was white.

Multiple people reported seeing two men resembling the composites across the country in Pensacola, Florida, in the weeks after the murders. The men, however, have never been identified.

When police asked friends and acquaintances of anyone who would want the Thompsons dead, one name was repeatedly mentioned.

Michael Goodwin was Mickey’s former business partner in their indoor stadium racing venture. After their relationship soured and the business encountered financial difficulties, the two men were at each other’s throats. The partnership dissolved, with each man filing a civil lawsuit against the other. In the end, Goodwin’s case was dismissed, and he was ordered to pay Mickey Thompson $514,000. Following the decision, several friends said they heard Goodwin say he was going to kill Mickey. Knowing Goodwin was a hothead, they assumed he was blowing smoke. Authorities wondered if the hothead had followed through with his treats.

For 13 years, Goodwin remained the prime suspect in the Thompson murders, but no physical evidence connected him to the crime. In 2001, a witness came forward saying he had seen two men in a parked car in the secluded Bradbury neighborhood looking through binoculars at the Thompson home. The witness and his wife both identified Goodwin, and the other resembled one of the gunmen. Goodwin also owned a stun gun similar to one found at the crime scene and presumed to have been left by the killers, though it was not used. Police theorize the two men were learning the Thompsons’ daily routine. Still, with nothing directly linking Goodwin to the murders, the Los Angeles County prosecutor chose not to indict him.

In 2006, a new prosecutor reviewed the evidence and deemed it sufficient to charge Goodwin. In 2007, he was convicted of the Thompsons murders as he was found to have hired the hitmen to kill his former business partner and his wife.

Michael Goodwin’s appeal of his conviction was denied in 2015. He maintains his innocence.

Even with Goodwin’s conviction, the murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson remains open as the hunt for the hitmen continues.

Shortly after the Thompson murders, Goodwin flew to the Caribbean for an extended stay. Police believe the killers may be Caribbean and that Goodwin paid them for the murders on the trip.

Police describe the Thompson murders as a classic professional hit. The calm demeanor of the killers led investigators to believe they could be professional hitmen.

The killers of Mickey and Trudy Thompson would likely be in their 50s or 60s today. Rumors say they are still working as hired guns in the Caribbean.

A $1 million reward is being offered for each man’s identification and apprehension.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

• America’s Most Wanted
Car and Driver Magazine
48 Hours
Fox News
Los Angeles Times
Motorsport .com
• Mickey Thompson Website
• Unsolved Mysteries


Recommended Reading:

Mickey Thompson: The Lost Story of the Original Speed King in His Own Words
Mickey Thompson

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


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