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Investigations Into Thomas Abbott's Brutal Death Were Botched by Phoenix Police; His Family's Convinced It's Because He Was Gay

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The next day, Thursday, May 28, Abbott finished packing his other car, a Mercedes, and paid a service to deliver it to Dallas.

Abbott booked his flight to Dallas for 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 30.

He informed his ex in a May 28 e-mail that Buchanan needed to sign a notarized letter allowing Abbott to remove him from their joint E-Trade account — which contained about $4,000. It's uncertain whether the men planned to split the proceeds.

Also on May 28, Abbott hired a driver to take him out for a haircut and manicure. He ate lunch at a favorite sushi restaurant. Later that afternoon, he signed over the Jaguar to David Griffin at his apartment complex.

About 9 p.m., Buchanan and a friend, Tom Kelly, showed up at Abbott's residence. Kelly tells New Times that Buchanan said he wanted to collect some things before Abbott left town.

Abbott phoned his friend Karen Griffin during the hour-long visit.

"He said, 'Frank is here,'" Griffin later told police. "And I said, 'Why? He really doesn't need to be there.' And he said, 'You talk to him.'"

She says she told Buchanan, "Frank, you're not supposed to be there. You're stressing him out; you're beating on him. You need to get out. You own nothing in that house."

Tom Kelly says he didn't notice any tension between Buchanan and Abbott and considered the visit a benign farewell between the pair. He says he took Buchanan home immediately afterward.

Buchanan's cell-phone records show that he and Abbott spoke later that night for more than an hour.

On the morning of Friday, May 29, a pair of housekeepers came by Abbott's apartment. One of them said during the civil case that Abbott was lying on the floor when they arrived, unwell and a bit disoriented.

The women helped him to the bathroom, where he crumpled briefly to the floor. He was wearing boxer shorts and a T-shirt, and neither noticed any bruising or cuts on his face or body.

They wondered whether Abbott was drunk but saw no sign of alcohol and smelled no booze on his breath. He later wrote them a check (including a $100 tip) and sent them off about noon.

Because police never retrieved Abbott's cell-phone records during their investigation, it's unknown whom he may have called from that point until he died.

But Buchanan did leave several voicemails for Abbott that day culminating in a significant call at 4:32 p.m. Martha Novorr says she and her college-age son listened to it a few days after Abbott's death.

She says Buchanan sounded extremely irate, saying he was leaving work early to come by Abbott's apartment — and warning Abbott to let him in.

Buchanan normally worked until about 6 p.m. Work records collected in the civil case show he left early that day, about 4:45 p.m.

It adds up to a likely one-on-one meeting between Skip Buchanan and Tom Abbott just 24 hours before Buchanan would find his former lover's body.

Novorr tells New Times that she played Buchanan's angry voicemails over the phone to Detective Sikes before mailing her the cell. Sikes' police reports note that she received the phone a few weeks after Abbott's death, but they don't mention the messages.

Novorr is convinced that Sikes failed to download the messages and also neglected to push T-Mobile to produce a copy of Abbott's cell records.

Asked about that by New Times, Sikes declined to speak for publication without permission from her supervisors, which she didn't get. However, a colleague of hers says Sikes claimed that Abbott's phone had no voice messages on it.

Someone is lying.

Buchanan has no alibi for about two hours after he left work that Friday afternoon, as no one is known to have seen or spoken to him during that time. This suggests he did go to Abbott's apartment, as he allegedly said he would on the 4:32 p.m. voice message.

If true, that would make Buchanan (with one possible exception) the last known person to have seen Abbott alive — and afforded him a window of opportunity to commit an assault.

The exception is Abbott's co-worker, Mike Talley, whose recent account in the civil case is described later in this story.

Tom Abbott's cell phone, by the way, still is in the PPD evidence room.

Skip Buchanan's cell records show that his friend, Tom Kelly, phoned Buchanan twice between 6 and 7 p.m. that Friday.

But he says Buchanan didn't answer or call back until about 9 that evening. Buchanan didn't use his cell phone during that stretch of about two hours, which ended about 8 p.m.

No one ever came forth to say he or she spoke to Tom Abbott on Saturday, May 30. That was the day Abbott was scheduled to leave Phoenix for Dallas at 3 p.m. Sister Martha says she'd already made plans to pick him up at the airport and get a late dinner.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin