Rent dispute leads to samurai sword killing

A Connecticut resident, Jerry Thompson, has been found guilty of decapitating his roommate, Victor King, with a samurai sword following a disagreement over rent, according to the Hartford State Attorney’s Office. Thompson, 45, chose to represent himself in court, dismissing his court-appointed attorney. He remained largely silent throughout the trial, refraining from cross-examining the state’s witnesses.

Thompson submitted a handwritten legal document titled “Sovereign Immunity,” arguing that the Connecticut Superior Court had no jurisdiction over him. This claim was reported by the Hartford Courant. Thompson was convicted of murdering King, a retired employee of Travelers and a champion bridge player.

The dispute began when King attempted to evict Thompson for failing to pay rent. On July 25, 2020, King reported to the Hartford Police Department that Thompson had threatened to kill him with a samurai sword. Surveillance footage from their Asylum Avenue apartment later showed Thompson approaching the front door with a long, slender object in his hands.

Days later, after receiving calls from concerned neighbors and friends, Hartford Police discovered King’s decapitated body under blankets in his kitchen. His body bore severe trauma to his arms, chest, shoulder, and neck. A samurai-style sword, consistent with King’s injuries, was later retrieved from a river about 10 miles north of the crime scene.

Thompson was located and arrested after police tracked his cellphone. Upon his arrest, Thompson handed over a note stating, “paper in the glove compartment is all you need.” This note suggested that Thompson considered himself a “sovereign citizen,” exempt from government statutes or proceedings. Thompson’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Victor King was a renowned bridge player, having won a national championship for the United States in 2016. He was a graduate of Middlebury College and had retired from Travelers Insurance in 2018 after more than 20 years of service. King was also an accomplished athlete and excelled at card and board games.

Thompson’s sister, Sky Thompson, wrote a letter to the Hartford State Attorney supporting the state assembly’s “Right to Counsel” bill, which provides certain low-income tenants with a state-provided lawyer if they face eviction or loss of their housing subsidy. She stated that her brother was mentally ill and had struggled with the consequences of his mental fragility in a society lacking meaningful social safety nets.