Sadly, Michael Ross Thompson was brutally murdered in a horrific triple homicide in Toowoomba, Australia, so he is not here to share his story. I have however, gathered information from Michael’s parents, Ross and Margaret Thompson and his only remaining brother, Nathan. I have also gathered facts and memories of Michael from my own experiences with Michael so his story can be shared.
Michael’s story needs to be told openly and honestly, and the media are cannot and should not be able to comment on who Michael was as a person. People need to know who Michael really was, from those who knew him. The real Michael was and is only known by those who were closest to him …so here is Michael’s story – the truth about one of the kindest and most caring and compassionate young men you would ever meet and with the world at his feet.
Michael’s father is Ross Thompson and his mother is Margaret Thompson. Michael had two brothers, John and Nathan Thompson. He was 2 years older than his brother, Nathan and very protective of his younger brother. Michael was always taking Nathan to the movies and Time Zone where they played video games and pool for hours. As children, Michael and Nathan would head into the bushland and get up to all sorts of mischief in their Cubby House, made out of unused logs. Eventually, the two boys built a new Cubby House, this time snug and hidden underneath the back steps of their family home.
Michael loved his brothers deeply and when he was around them he was at his happiest and all he wanted was the same sense of joy for them. Michael and his brothers were true ‘brothers in arms’, best friends, and to Michael there was no greater priority in his life than his two brothers. He would do whatever he could to protect them, always. It was an unbreakable bond, with all boys looking after one another and the closeness they shared as small children remained with them all throughout their adolescent and early adult years. Despite this close bond, each had their own unique personalities and ways. One thing however was consistent between all three, and that was they were always there for each another.
Michael was always excited to welcome his brothers to his home in Toowoomba, anytime, every time, and as they grew, Michael started seeing his brothers a lot more and he loved it. The fun loving trio enjoyed going out together and equally loved standing out in a crowd! It was a brother thing – when Michael went out with his family, he and his brothers would always dress up in their black coats, their private code and a symbol of unity as brothers. To some they could have looked like they were in a gang, the mafia even, to the point that when they visited venues the security people didn’t look twice at them.
When at home, Michael was always the first to join in with what his brothers were doing, and he looked forward to the times when his parents would visit him in Toowoomba too.
When Michael died, his youngest brother, John was so devastated at the thought of going on without his best friend that he fell into a deep depression. The extremity of his depression coupled with the increasing lack of sleep he experienced following Michael’s tragic death, caused him to lose control of his car in late August 2005, losing his own precious life at just 21 years of age. This was a further devastation for Michael’s parents, his remaining brother, and best friend, Amanda, knowing it was the distress and fatigue of trying to cope with the loss of Michael that had now also caused their youngest son, John’s fatal car accident, just three months after Michael’s death.
Michael always regarded his closest friends and the love of his life as part of his family. When Margaret was pregnant with Michael, the doctors first thought she was having twins and that she had lost the second twin. However, further tests showed she was having only one child, that child being Michael, a large baby weighing in at 9 pounds (4.8kg). As a newborn, Michael spent a lot of time in hospitals, but even when he wasn’t in hospital he would spend his time playing with other babies. He first stood up at 12 months old in Alice Springs and to this day Ross and Margaret recall Michael taking his first steps, wearing a little black and white jumpsuit. He called trucks “ruckins” and it around then, as a toddler, that Michael’s parents started to realise he was lacking in some learning abilities. As a little boy, Michael loved to play with anything that had wheels on it, just so he could take them off. He started reading at 10 and the first book he ever read himself was “Bears in The Night”. It was a story his mum had read to him night after night until the time came that Michael had memorized the entire book.
Later in life, still as a child, it was apparent Michael was becoming anti-social. As a teenager, he became even more withdrawn from life and suffered a broken nose when he was 14, caused by a bully attacking him from behind when he was getting off the school bus – and for no reason. As a teen, Michael was however, very popular and had a lot of friends. His intelligence was really starting to show as well. He was becoming more independent, something he chose for himself.
Leaving home at 16 Michael had quite a few challenges to deal with, he would forget things easily which impacted negatively on his schooling – he was struggling with a short term memory of just 5%. Despite having a dreadful short term memory, Michael’s long term memory was excellent. Unbeknown to many, Michael had Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism, and he also had allergies to wasps, perfumes, soaps, shampoo, ants, bees, dust, sunshine and many different foods. As time passed, his allergies became increasingly worse and to the point where he almost died in hospital on one occasion, and a shot of adrenalin by medical teams is all that saved his life. These intensive allergies were the reason Michael always wore long sleeve shirts, and which is why he was excluded from having to wear a school uniform. Michael’s allergies were so bad he could only wear cotton clothes.
Later in life, Michael discovered more about himself introspectively. He found it difficult to communicate with other people, he was allergic to almost everything, and his learning difficulties began when he was just a toddler.
After moving to Toowoomba as a young man, things started to spiral downwards for Michael. Not long before he was murdered, Michael’s heart was broken and he suffered from extreme depression. It had been around that time that Michael really learnt how to love properly. With dark, fuzzy hair that always grew back superfast, Michael had a warm smile, soft, slim, gentle lips and sharp yet innocent and intelligent eyes. He had a very slim build and was tall, with long legs, big feet and large, but strong fingers. He always had some sort of beard, and wore a moustache when he died. Michael was one of a kind. He always dressed formally, something that was just part of his personality. He was very sophisticated in many ways and seemed to have come from a different era with his eloquent dress, style and character. He was the type of man who presented as an English gentleman. Michael was a long admirer of the old professor style, and modelled this is what he fashioned own look and style on.
Michael’s brother, Nathan, had always recognised the depression that lay deep within his brother, even when he was trying to and appearing to have fun. A gentle soul, Michael’s favourite flower was the yellow daisy. He always loved animals and appreciated great pieces of art, and had a keen interest in a great many things and how they worked. His passion however, was for the intellectual, and not the physical, something that was reflected in his intellectual capability when it came to matters of science over other elements of school work. He also loved reading and could always be found with a book in his hands. There were many times Michael could not put a book down, often only when his eyes were closing.
Michael adored his mother, or as he fondly called her, “The Queen of Mums.” When Margaret gave him coffee he called it “the elixir of life”, and at one stage, after reading from the bible, Michael announced he would like to become a priest; he wanted to change the world and make it a better place. He wanted to put a smile on everybody’s face. He was a beautiful soul; he never wanted money and never asked for it. He always wanted to help others that were less fortunate and he wanted to get married one day and have children. Michael was a man of great conviction, if he wore a ring on any of his fingers it was always a symbol of great importance to him. When he said he was going to do something, because of his own strong determination he made sure he did just that. Michael’s big heart always seemed to have a positive impact on those around him, it came naturally; being around Michael made you feel good about yourself and the world. Although it is true Michael was shy, you could often catch a glimpse of his real personality, only when he was truly relaxed, with his long legs stretched out languidly across his big feet, and his long, slender body easing backwards into a gentle lean, something he did often.
Michael felt strongly money was the main cause of pain in our world, and which is why he never asked for it. He had a rare determination to achieve things that the rest of us would consider impossible to do or just wouldn’t have the inclination and drive to do. Michael was the type of person that when he looked at you, you felt like you were in another world, with all your problems swept away and forgotten.
Perhaps surprisingly, Michael always had a dream to become famous for inventing something completely unexpected, and he strived hard to achieve all of his goals. Although Michael for the most part was a quiet individual, he always seemed to stand out in a crowd. He believed everyone should be treated with respect and was the type of person who always appreciated every one for who they were, and not who society thought they should be.
He was always encouraging of his brothers, about anything and for everything, regardless of the reasons. Doctors described Michael as being a ’deep thinking eccentric’, and even as a teenager, he was beginning to display a unique mix of sophistication and eccentricity. Despite Michael’s refined style, he lacked self-confidence through all of his life. He was inspired by a great many people and things, from his university lecturers and family history to the classical music of Beethoven and Mozart, and artists such as Michelangelo; his brothers, Einstein and the world’s most intelligent man, Richard Hawkins. While Michael’s character was somewhat laid back, he was always committed to more fully understanding his own challenges in life, and often described himself as a ’hermit’.
Although life was not easy for Michael, he still smiled, a lot. When he tried to be funny, and he did try, it would usually backfire on him. He loved talking about anything and everything. He was an honest person, incredibly trustworthy and everyone knew it. He was forever kind to people, treating everyone with respect and compassion; he was considerate and caring, highly intelligent and was always open to suggestion. Michael was ‘always’ fun to have and be around. He was the type of person who didn’t always understand love properly, but was nevertheless still obsessed with it. He was in many regards a very lonely person, who had very strong morals and adored helping people in trouble. He was always there when someone needed him, a welcome shoulder to lean on and a gentle ear to talk to. Michael truly was everyone’s friend and he gave anyone and everyone the chance to be his friend, even those who had done wrong by him. His life’s focus seemed to be about making friends, whenever or wherever he could, and he was constantly on the lookout for ways to care for others.
Regrettably Michael didn’t recognise, or care, when people were taking advantage of him. He lived on the smallest amount of food and money, while spending his pension to help others in need. It seemed everyone’ else’s needs were more important than his own. He shared everything he had and left himself with nothing. Despite Michael’s big heart and compassion for others, he was sometimes treated with contempt by those who didn’t or couldn’t understand his unique ways.
With one finger held elegantly away from the rest, Michael always drank from his cup of tea in the ‘proper’ old English way. This was just one of the many traits that made Michael so unique and admired. While living on a Disability Support Pension, on those rare occasions when he had a little left over for himself, Michael would splurge on caviar, and he was also a rare but social drinker. Michael was fascinated with textbooks and especially Ancient History, The Egyptians and Science; ancient history a true passion and he was determined to learn as much as possible about it. He read up on ancient history, religious cults and the bible; a book that particularly intrigued him.
Michael studied a course in Psychology at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, by correspondence, in large part so he didn’t have to socialise. By this stage Michael didn’t enjoy socialising; he wanted to help children like himself to have a better life, hence his desire to study psychology. While studying he moved to Toowoomba, away from home, and so he could listen and be closer to his university lecturers and better understand exactly what he was supposed to be doing and achieving in regards to his studies. Completing university was a huge goal for Michael and he lived for 4-5 years on his own, ensuing he could stay focussed and consistent with his studies. Regardless of everything, this gentle person had a very hard life. He tried so hard to socialise because he really did want friends, he didn’t want to be a ‘hermit’ as he had always described himself. The funny thing is Michael never realised just how many friends he had made, not only in Toowoomba, but also its neighbouring areas.
Michael did his best to help the local community and had started achieving his goals to help people less fortunate by way of giving them food, shelter and recreational support. He had rented a unit that he used as a type of drop in centre and shelter for other people doing it tough. While Michael had a large circle of people in Toowoomba he considered friends, few of them were close friends and sadly, many of them took advantage of him for their own purposes.
Michael loved to visit small restaurants and play Chess with any diners who were willing. A place he particularly enjoyed visiting was the Irish Club Hotel and High Court Café. Those closest to Michael have vivid recollections of their time going to nightclubs with him; it was a rare occasion, but when it happened he lit up the entire room. Those same friends remember having friendly debates with Michael that went on for hours and often covered political matters, ancient history and of course science. With his much beloved professor-style demeanour, Michael enjoyed the occasional cigar, his favourite by Weewilliams. He loved board games and especially Chess, but he was also interested in computers, and had an avid interest in dinosaurs, and did a lot of volunteer work. Eventually, as life unfolded, Michael became engaged but had his heart broken before he even had the chance to realise his dream of one day getting married.
When Michael died, his now deceased youngest brother, John called his mother to say he thought something was wrong with Michael and that the police were denying him access to Michael’s unit. Ross and Margaret rushed from the small town of Millmerran to the Toowoomba Police Station with Michael’s other brother, Nathan, only to have the police confirm Michael had been murdered in a triple homicide. As you would expect Margaret was distraught beyond belief and in utter shock when she heard the news. It was incredibly traumatic for both of Michael’s parents, and his brother, Nathan to see Michael lying there motionless on a table at the John Tong Centre. Michael’s body was fixed at the Burstows Funeral Centre in Toowoomba, but it was still impossible to view his face. Following his death, Michael’s mum laid flowers at the unit of his murder, only to have the Landlord heartlessly throw them into the bin. When Michael was murdered, his father, Ross felt angry, empty and deeply depressed; he felt he hadn’t fully achieved what he wanted to with his darling son. It was a devastating loss and on every level.
The police found Michael’s body in the early hours of May 31st, 2005. He had been murdered in his small unit on the corner of Hume and North streets in Toowoomba. He suffered painfully and over a long period of time before his eventual death and his body was brutally beaten even after his death. Michael’s shocking death made a lot of people sick to the stomach when they learnt of the gruesome details of his murder. Many were traumatised by what had happened and some became emotionally and mentally unstable. There were others who even became suicidal, and yet others again who to this day cannot move on with their lives because of the loss of Michael’s life. Sadly there are also those whose lives have been turned completely upside down with their own obsessive memories of Michael, while others have needed psychiatric support to deal with their loss.
Michael was so well respected by people and organisations following his death. His funeral was beautifully organised by Burstows Funeral Centre and there were a lot of people who came and showed their respect and paid tribute to Michael, including his family, friends, friends of the family and even people in very high positions. The police involved in the Toowoomba Triple Homicide case attended, consoling his closest friends and loved ones. Michael’s parents placed yellow daisies on his coffin in memory of them being his favourite flower and along with both of his brothers, Nathan and John, they each put a single red rose on Michael’s coffin. Heartbreakingly, Nathan and John were too upset to speak at their brother’s funeral, however many others spoke and many tears flowed. Cigars and caviar, two of Michaels little life-luxuries, were placed inside his coffin, while two songs by one of his favourites musical artists, Enya played in the background.
It was such a shame that so many people didn’t begin to admire Michael until his funeral, because he was such an admirable man. He is however, still deeply respected today for all the wonderful things he did in his short life. It is also a shame that it took Michael’s death to make people truly realise life is too short to take it for granted. As the old adage goes, “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. Michael always believed in that philosophy and, while many people could never have expected what happened on that horrific night, we should all keep an open mind to any and every possibility, because you just never know what will happen. You or I could be next, and for no reason at all. Life is far too precious, and in honour of Michael, and the good and kind person he was, we need to remember that and treasure each and every day we have with those we love.
Hopefully this story has given you a small insight into the truly beautiful person Michael Ross Thompson was, and helped you to understand the many wonderful things about him that will never and could never be shared by the mass media.
Michael will always be remembered for all he was, a true gentleman, and a kind and gentle spirit, in many, many hearts.