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Henrico couple's tumultuous relationship endures death of child but ends in slaying
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Henrico couple's tumultuous relationship endures death of child but ends in slaying

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Court records provide a glimpse into the tumultuous relationship — one that endured the death of a child and years of bitter fighting — between the Henrico County man charged with second-degree murder and the wife he’s accused of killing.

Michael L. Thurston Sr., 42, was frequently reported to have threatened the life of 35-year-old Tabitha Inge before Feb. 12 when she was found dead “with obvious signs of injury” in the home the couple shared in the 6900 block of Holland Street, according to criminal complaints alleging assault and petitions for protective orders filed in the Henrico County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

“The subject openly told other people that he was planning on committing the murder,” said a court document that attributes the information to a detective.

Court records also note that Thurston had been taken into custody on a temporary detention order on Feb. 10. Two days later, Inge died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to the medical examiner.

“The exact reason he was able to leave is unclear,” the court document said.

It’s also unclear why Thurston was being held, and when he was released. But on Feb. 10, Henrico police responded to an emergency call for mental health services at the eastern Henrico home. Police records also show officers served a temporary detention order the same day.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney BJ McGee declined to comment on the ongoing case. Thurston’s attorney, David Giroux, also declined to comment.

A preliminary hearing for the murder charge is scheduled for later this month in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Thurston first reportedly threatened Inge’s life on April 7, 2018 — though there was one earlier complaint from alleging abuse in 2012, according to the Henrico court records. In the 2018 incident, they had gotten into an argument while Thurston was driving and Inge tried to flee by jumping from the car.

“He stopped her by grabbing her by the hair and punched her in the face and threatened to kill her,” the criminal complaint said.

She escaped that day and officers found her walking in the area of Darbytown and Old Oakland roads in eastern Henrico after someone called 911 about a woman “standing in the middle of the road yelling for help.”

Then again, on Feb. 15, 2019, Thurston reportedly told Inge he was going to kill her. He was arrested after putting her in a choke hold that “caused her difficulty breathing and dizziness,” according to the complaint. An officer noted redness around her neck and throat, a cut on her arm, a bump on the side of her head and clumps of her hair missing.

Thurston was arrested and charged after each of those encounters, along with a handful of others; all charges were later dropped.

Inge successfully sought temporary protection orders on three separate occasions — once in 2012 and twice in 2020 — in which Thurston was ordered to have no contact with Inge. The longest those court orders lasted was three days.

In August 2020, Thurston pleaded no contest to violating one of the protective orders twice — six more violations were dropped. He was ordered to serve two days in jail, one for each count, according to records.

On two occasions, both in late 2019, Thurston sought protective orders against Inge for alleged assaults. All criminal charges against her were later dropped, but one of the emergency protection orders lasted five days over the Christmas holiday that year.

Information in Thurston’s court file noted that 11 cases involving charges of domestic assault and battery, strangulation and violation of protective orders between July 2018 and May 2020 had been dropped.

Since June 2020, Henrico police have responded to the Holland Street home 11 times. Six of those calls for service were domestic-related, according to information provided by police. The penultimate visit from officers was their response to Inge’s death on Feb. 12. A final call for a “suspicious situation” came a day later.

The couple married around 2018. In a criminal complaint from Feb. 16, 2020, Inge told a Henrico officer they’d been married two years. But the pair had been together much longer. They had three children: Chloe, 7, Isaiah, 6, and Mikayla, who was 2 when she died in 2014.

The girl accidentally hanged herself in a partially open car window after being left unattended for several minutes. Inge entered an Alford plea — meaning she did not admit guilt but acknowledged that the prosecution had enough evidence for a conviction — to felony child neglect less than three months after the incident and was given a suspended sentence.

The child’s death greatly affected Inge, and the family, her attorney said at the time.

But Thurston’s criminal history extends beyond his troubled relationship with Inge.

In 1997, 1998 and 2001, he was convicted in Henrico for domestic assault and battery of a former wife. In 2013, he was convicted of domestic assault and battery of another woman in Richmond.

Between 2005 and 2012, he picked up a series of DUI charges in Chesterfield County, Henrico and Buena Vista.

He also has convictions for petit larceny, grand larceny and six counts of forgery, as well as traffic infractions, probation violations and civil penalties for failure to pay child support.

arockett@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6527

Twitter: @AliRockettRTD

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