The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

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The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by ophion1031 on July 5th 2015, 8:55 pm

William Erness Thoresen III
DOB: Oct. 9, 1937
DIED: June 19, 1970. Shot to death by his wife, Louise.
Parents: William E. Thoresen II and Catherine Ehrman Thoresen, both deceased.
Siblings: Richard Thoresen, deceased.
Spouse(s) : Louise (Banich) Thoresen, deceased.
Children: Michael W. Thoresen
HT & WT: Approximately 6'2", 175 lbs.
Known Addresses:
Kenilworth, IL.
4810 Camino Escuela Tuscon, AZ.
136 E. 54th St. New York, NY.
2801 Broadway San Francisco, CA.
Phoenix, AZ.
Fresno, CA.




William Erness Thoresen III grew up in the wealthiest part of Chicago. His father, William E. Thoresen II, had been the founder and president of Great Western Steel Co. since the 1920's. The family was very wealthy. Thoresen and his brother, Richard, were spoiled kids who grew up having everything they wanted and then some.

Bill started getting into trouble when he was a teenager. Since he was never disciplined at any point in his life, he thought he could get away with whatever he wanted to. And to an extent, he did get away with a lot. It is believed that Thoresen started acting out because of his severe speech impediment, a stutter.

The Thoresen family had tried to have Bill committed on more than one occasion, but it did not work. There was one time where Bill escaped while on the way to a mental hospital, and he and his girlfriend, Louise Banich, fled to Indiana to stay with one of Louise's aunts. Bill and Louise were married during their stay in Indiana. Louise was a school teacher and a speech therapist.

After a while, the newlywed couple decided to return to Chicago and face the music. Bill told his father that he had changed and wanted to be a responsible adult, and his father bought it. Bill and Louise moved to Arizona where Bill would try out a career in the rodeo. This new career path did not last very long.

William started traveling quite often and would leave Louise at home. He was basically out living the life of a rich bachelor; partying and sleeping with lots of women. Louise knew what he was up to, but she rarely ever brought it up because when she did, he would beat her. One of William's favorite places to travel was to California. He fell in love with San Francisco and would often tell Louise how he wanted to move there, but they did not have the money for it.


*BREAK* Will finish this up a little later. I am going to read Louise's book again and take notes so I have all of my dates and everything accurate.

Arrest Record: (and disputes)
-1957 Thoresen is stabbed during a scuffle with a parking lot attendant in Evanston, Ill. Thoresen claims that he later hit the same man with his car.
-1958 Charged and fined $50 for shoving a man in Kenilworth, Ill.
-1959 Charged with stealing 6 colored posters from a ferry terminal in Bar Harbor, Maine. Thoresen's father agreed to bail William out as long as he checked into a mental health facility upon their return to Chicago, but William refused. His father bailed him out anyways. William was charged with a felony and placed on 2 years probation. http://openjurist.org/395/f2d/466/in-the-matter-of-william-e-thoresen-iii is a link that gives more information. Thoresen later tried to appeal this because he was about to start his weapons trial, and being a convicted felon it was illegal for him to own any firearms.
-1964 Accused of lighting dynamite outside of a radio station in Arizona where he and his wife were living. The charges were dropped because the witness was too scared to testify.
-1965 William and Richard Thoresen were named in burglary warrants for breaking into their parents home. Richard was murdered the day before he was to go to trial.
-1966, March 11th Thoresen and Lewis Dale Stoddard were arrested after a high speed chase in one of Thoresen's Ferraris. Police were investigating "suspicious circumstances" outside of Val's Gun Shop on Columbus Ave. in San Francisco. Not sure what the "suspicious circumstances" were. The two were originally charged with assault on a police officer, possession of a blackjack and resisting arrest. Thoresen was also charged with speeding, driving under the influence of drugs and not having his car registered. The resisting arrest charge stuck and the other charges were dropped.
-1966, October. Arrested in Phoenix, AZ for aggravated assault on a waiter, Phillip Phillips (what a dumb name!), at Hiway House Motor Hotel in Tucson on July 21, 1966. Thoresen broke the man's arm because he thought that his bill was 75 cents more than it should have been. 75 cents was nothing to Thoresen, yet it was enough to make him lose his temper and break a man's arm.
-1966, December. William and Louise Thoresen, accompanied by J. Curtis Earl (for part of their trip) go around the country buying up all the weapons and ammo they can get their hands on. Louise left some packages at Kennedy airport in NYC. One of the packages accidentally opened and revealed a gun inside. The airport contacted the authorities and Louise was arrested when she came to collect the packages. These packages contained an arsenal, and even more was found in the rental car in Louise's name. William approached the rental car and was confronted by either FBI agents or NYPD (I forget which), who attempted to question Thoresen about the murder of Valerie Percy, but William would not cooperate and went to get his lawyer.
-1967 ATF raids the Thoresen mansion in San Francisco and finds that the house is full of weapons and ammo. Everything from handguns to machine guns to bayonets to anti-aircraft weapons. Over the next few days, the ATF learns of warehouses where Thoresen has even more weapons and ammo, and they find a garage in his neighborhood where he has stored a cannon. In total, they confiscate over 77 tons worth of goodies.
-1967 Charged with assault and bribery in Las Vegas after breaking Joan Jelke's nose and then handing two police officers $5000 in cash each and telling them to "lay off."
-1967 charged with disorderly conduct and leaving the scene of an accident.
-1970 after Thoresen is shot to death by his wife, police search the home they bought in Fresno (they were living there because that is where their trial was being held) and find a bunch more weapons and ammo, a bunch of heroin and LSD, and more than 50 lbs of high grade marijuana. Thoresen and an unidentified woman were to fly to Europe on the night of his death. Police believe he was running drugs. Police also re-searched his San Francisco mansion after his death and found that he was stockpiling weapons there again. They also found 7 slot machines in the home. Pretty weird. The pathologist found needle marks in Thoresen's arm. If you click HERE, you can see a lot of this stuff.



William had once tried to push his mother from a 2nd story balcony, and had also tried to throw his wife from a 20th story hotel window in New York. Here is a link that mentions an attorney who had entered the Thoresen's 20th floor hotel room as William was trying to throw Louise out the window.
http://www.newspapers.com/image/24193560/?terms=photo+of+william+thoresen

Here are some other tidbits from various newspaper articles:
-Thoesen once offered Joseph R. Hinojosa $250,000 to murder his parents.
-Plotted to bomb Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and then threatened another bombing in a plan to get $2.5 million.
-Offered 3 different men to murder his wife, Louise. One of the men claimed that William asked him to kidnap Louise, stage an orgy in the desert and take photos.
-Once asked a fellow inmate in S.F. to help him commit suicide.
-Asked 2 different men at 2 different times to burn down his San Francisco mansion.
-Planned to kidnap the child of a man who owed him money and "snuff the kid" if the man did not make good on his debt.
-Assaulted one of his lawyers bad enough to put the man in the hospital.
-Attacked his wife with an electric cattle prod, boxing gloves, a leather riding crop and shortly before she killed him, he tried to shove a knife into her vagina. He forced Louise to write 6 fake suicide notes the night before she killed him. He tried to get her to take a lethal dose of pills that night as well.
-Paid a man named Harold Bell to kill Joe Hinojosa when he thought Hinojosa was sleeping with his wife. Thoresen realized this could probably be linked back to him so he called off the hit. He was barely able to contact Bell before he carried out the murder. Although he and Hinojosa were close friends, Thoresen believed he was sleeping with Louise, and maybe he was, although she denies it. I believe the police subjected her to some sort of testing to determine if she had slept with Hinojosa, but I could be wrong. Louise stayed with Hinojosa for a while because Thoresen had become more violent and had been beating her more frequently. I think Louise was pregnant in 1968 or 1969 and maybe had an abortion or lost the baby somehow. I forget, but I'm pretty sure I read that in her book.


Last edited by ophion1031 on January 5th 2017, 3:30 am; edited 14 times in total
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Re: The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by ophion1031 on July 8th 2015, 10:54 pm

This is a horrible picture, sorry. It's a federal agent sorting through Thoresen's reefer that they pulled out of the Fresno home shortly after Thoresen was killed. He had over 50 lbs. of high grade marijuana in the home.

EDIT: Did I forget to post the photo or has it disappeared???


Last edited by ophion1031 on July 13th 2015, 3:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by goldengopher on July 12th 2015, 7:52 pm

Really interesting stuff! I hadn't read much about William Thoresen until I found your site today. I always like reading new takes on the Zodiac and appreciate this site.

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Re: The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by ophion1031 on July 12th 2015, 8:20 pm

Thanks for the reply! One of the reasons for this site is so that we can discuss subjects that people on the other sites will not discuss. Nobody on the other sites thinks Thoresen could have had anything to do with the Zodiac crimes. I'm pretty doubtful myself, but unless we explore everything we will not know for sure.

Plus, Thoresen was a very interesting guy who just happened to live 1 mile from the Paul Stein murder scene. The guy was very deceptive and manipulating, but he was also not very smart when it came to crime. He would have eventually got a lengthy prison sentence for something if his wife hadn't killed him (which he manipulated her into doing).
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Re: The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by ophion1031 on August 4th 2015, 2:41 am

http://openjurist.org/395/f2d/466/in-the-matter-of-william-e-thoresen-iii

In 1968, Thoresen was trying to appeal his felony charge in Maine from 1959 when he was convicted of stealing six posters from the Bar Harbor, Maine, terminal of the Canadian National Railway's Nova Scotia ferry. This felony made it illegal for Thoresen to own a firearm. He was trying to appeal the felony before his weapons trial.

In the Matter of William E. THORESEN, III, Petitioner.

Misc. No. 263.

United States Court of Appeals First Circuit.

May 13, 1968.

1

This is a request for a certificate of probable cause for appeal from an order of the District Court for the District of Maine dismissing an application for a writ of habeas corpus for lack of jurisdiction. A somewhat detailed recitation of facts is called for.
2

In September 1959, when petitioner was 21 years old, he stole six posters from the Bar Harbor, Maine, terminal of the Canadian National Railway's Nova Scotia ferry. He was apprehended and jailed for want of bail. Thereafter he waived indictment. The waiver which he executed recited that he was charged with "[l]arceny of goods having a value in excess of One hundred dollars." On the same day he pleaded guilty to an information in which the posters were assigned individual values, totalling an "aggregate value of one hundred and fifty dollars." Between the date of his apprehension and the date of his plea, a period of some ten days, petitioner was continuously in jail. According to affidavits accompanying the present application the following events occurred.
3

Petitioner employed an attorney, who in turn made contact with petitioner's father. Upon his arrival the father essentially discharged the attorney and conducted lengthy negotiations with the district attorney in the absence of counsel. The father brought with him funds sufficient to bail petitioner, but did not bail him. He informed the district attorney that he was worried about petitioner and thought that he should be treated in a mental institution; that he did not want the petitioner to know that this was the father's proposal, and that he did not want petitioner fined, but thought it best that he receive a suspended sentence and probation, as a result of which, if petitioner was released forthwith, he could return to his home in Illinois for treatment, but be under the custody of the court. After some difficulty the petitioner's father and the district attorney persuaded petitioner to plead guilty, the father informing petitioner that everything would be all right, and that he was only pleading to a "misdemeanor type" offense. Thereafter petitioner pleaded guilty, as aforesaid. He received a two-year suspended sentence, and in 1961 was discharged from the terms of his probation.
4

Petitioner is presently a resident of California. In 1967 he was indicted in the United States District Court in California for transporting firearms in interstate commerce having been previously "convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year." 15 U.S.C. § 902(e). The prior conviction relied upon is that just described. Investigation by petitioner's counsel revealed the foregoing facts, and revealed, further, that the Canadian National Railway had paid a small sum for the posters in question, $2.25 apiece for five and some $15 for the sixth, from which it could fairly be said that by no possibility was the stolen property of a value in excess of $100. Accordingly, the larceny to which petitioner had pleaded should not have been so described, and petitioner was not in fact guilty of an offense within the ambit of section 902(e).1
5

On this basis petitioner sought postconviction relief in the State of Maine. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the only relief open in that state is under its habeas corpus statute; that habeas corpus is not available when the petitioner is no longer in custody, and that no greater rights attached to the petitioner, so far as the Maine courts were concerned, by virtue of the California proceedings. The present application was then filed in the district court, and dismissed for want of jurisdiction. The district court having declined to issue a certificate of probable cause for appeal, our sole present question is whether that declination was proper.
6

Petitioner's difficulty is his inability to demonstrate the "custody" required by 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c) before the writ of habeas corpus can issue, a problem pointed up by his failure to name a respondent against whom the writ is to issue. We do not have merely the situation which moved a minority of the Court in Parker v. Ellis, 1960, 362 U.S. 574, 577 and 595, 80 S.Ct. 909, 4 L.Ed.2d 963 (dissenting opinions), where custody terminated during the pendency of the action, see, also, Thomas v. Cunningham, 4 Cir., 1964, 335 F.2d 67; here there was no custody — at least so far as Maine was concerned — when the application was filed. Apparently petitioner believes that he is contesting a state interest in the light of the fact that he seeks a certificate of probable cause under 28 U.S.C. § 2253. Yet the absence of any respondent has the serious legal consequence that there was no controversy, and the serious practical effect that there was no one to contest.
7

Petitioner also asserts the custody of the United States in connection with the proceedings pending against him in California.2 Assuming that this be sufficient custody, but cf. Allen v. United States, 1 Cir., 1965, 349 F.2d 362, jurisdiction would not lie in the District of Maine. Ahrens v. Clark, 1948, 335 U.S. 188, 68 S.Ct. 1443, 92 L.Ed. 1898. While we suggest no opinion on the question, even if, as petitioner asserts, there should be nowhere that he may now seek a writ of habeas corpus, it does not necessarily follow that he is remediless so far as defending against the California indictment is concerned. Cf. Burgett v. State of Texas, 1967, 389 U.S. 109, 88 S.Ct. 258, 19 L.Ed.2d 319. We, of course, express no views as to the applicability of Burgett, or whether on the facts alleged petitioner was unconstitutionally convicted.
8

Certificate denied.

Notes:
1

Conviction for larceny of goods whose value is less than $100 carries a maximum term of six months. Me.Rev.Stat. Ann. tit. 17, § 2101
2

Petitioner urges that he is in a unique position under the statute as his federal custody by virtue of the indictment against him arguably places him "`in custody pursuant to the judgment of the state court' [28 U.S.C. § 2254] since the federal indictment is based upon a 1959 Maine conviction." We do not believe that this novel suggestion as to the meaning of "pursuant to" advances his case
9

PER CURIAM.
10

On May 20 the Supreme Court overruled Parker v. Ellis, 1960, 362 U.S. 574, 80 S.Ct. 909, 4 L.Ed.2d 963, in Carafas v. LaVallee, 5/20/68, 391 U.S. 234, 88 S.Ct. 1556, 20 L.Ed.2d 554, and decided Peyton v. Rowe, 5/20/68, 391 U.S. 54, 88 S.Ct. 1549, 20 L.Ed.2d 426. We have reviewed these decisions and see no reason to alter ours.
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Re: The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by Muttley on July 5th 2016, 9:26 pm

Been mowing over the Thoresen threads for a little bit now and just blown away by the guy. Not as far as being a good Z suspect but in general he is really interesting.
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Re: The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by ophion1031 on July 9th 2016, 10:37 pm

Muttley wrote:Been mowing over the Thoresen threads for a little bit now and just blown away by the guy. Not as far as being a good Z suspect but in general he is really interesting.

Agreed. I think it's very possible that he had something to do with the Stine murder, but doubtful he had anything to do with any other Z murders. As far as the Stine murder, I just think there is a good chance because of how close he lived, and he was a complete psychopath. I also think he could have known Kjell Qvale, and I think Zodiac hid in Qvale's home after the murder.
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Re: The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by ophion1031 on October 8th 2016, 9:46 pm

I got a letter from the FBI a couple days ago and it was a document about Thoresen, but it was such bad quality that I couldn't even read it. I'm sure it was probably something I have already seen before.
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Re: The story of "Wild Bill" Thoresen

Post by ophion1031 on April 10th 2017, 1:58 am

Dang, I still need to finish the Thoresen timeline... I haven't read Louise's book again, but will do so at some point and will take notes.

I also need to research the apartment building at 1651 Larkin St in San Fran. The '69-'70 SF directory says Thoresen was the apartment manager there. Louise never mentions this in her book. I want to see if I can get a list of who lived in the building in 1969 and research each of them.


EDIT: New 1651 Larkin St thread... http://zodiackiller.forumotion.com/t818-1651-larkin-st#9123


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