Thomas Dillon

By Source, Fair use,

Thomas Lee Dillon

(July 9th 1950 - October 21st 2011)

An intelligent man with a wife, a son, and a respectable job he’d held for over two decades.  You would never pick out Thomas Dillon from a crowd as a serial killer.  This is, however, often the case with people who commit crimes such as his.

Everybody knew that Dillon enjoyed hunting, as do lots of people in rural America, he owned a large number of different hunting rifles.  What wasn’t known is that come 1989, Dillon had made the decision to hunt a different prey…

Yeah, yeah. His hat blew straight up about 20 feet. I knew I had blow his whole head off.
— Dillon's response during interview whether he knew a particular victim was dead.


His first victim was 35 year old Donald Welling.  Welling was a resident of Strasburg, Ohio and was jogging along Tuscarawas County Road 94 on April 1st 1989.  Dillon spotted the man jogging at the side of the road and confessed later that he just developed an urge to pull over and shoot him.
Shot from only a few meters away with a rifle, Donald Welling died almost instantly.

Dillon took his next known victim’s life approximately 18 months later, on November 10th 1990 in Belmont County.
Jamie Paxton, 21, was out deer hunting alone when Dillon shot him to death.

Not long after Paxton’s murder, November 28th, in Muskingham County, Thomas Dillon came across Massachusetts born Kevin Loring.  Dillon shot the 31 year old in cold blood.  Loring never knew what was coming.

Claude Hawkins was a 48 year old man who enjoyed fishing, he was casting a reel at Wills Creek dam in Coshocton County on March 14th 1992, when a rare vehicle passed him, he gestured a kind wave at the occupant.  This was the last thing he would ever do.  Dillon noted that as he passed a voice told him to “go back and get him”.  Hawkins was shot in the back, dying instantly.

His last random sniper shooting took place near the county seat of Noble County.  44 year old West Virginia resident Gary Bradley was also enjoying a day out fishing when unawares a bullet from Dillon’s rifle struck him down dead.


Thomas Dillon became a suspect in the killings after his friend tipped them off that it could be him, and police tailed him for months before picking him up on a weapons charge.  This led to his picture being in the papers where a gun dealer recognised his face, recalling that Dillon had sold him a rifle.  Ballistic testing revealed that the rifle was the same one used in one of the homicides.

Thomas Dillon confessed to all the sniper shootings after making a deal that he would not see the death penalty and on July 12th 1993, sentenced to 5 terms of 30 years to life plus 15 years for weapons charges.

Dillon’s wife attempted to sell his story but was vehemently protested against by Jamie Paxton’s mother.  This led to the Paxton bill being passed by Ohio Senator Bob Ney which disallows murderers or their family’s profiting from their crimes.  (Aileen Wuornos tried a similar thing not realising Florida already had this type of law in effect).

Thomas Dillon passed away on October 21st 2011 aged 61 after suffering with an unspecified illness.

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