VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A Visalia man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife, according to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

On Thursday, 41-year-old Thomas Van Es, was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for the 2022 murder of his wife, officials say.

According to authorities, Van Es had separated from the victim, his wife, in January of 2022. On June 9, 2022, he sent her a series of text messages insisting that they meet up in person to talk. She eventually agreed to meet him and did not return home afterwards. Her body was located the following morning with an apparent gunshot wound to her head consistent with a shotgun.

Van Es was contacted by law enforcement and admitted to messaging the victim about meeting with her but denied that he left his home that evening.

Video surveillance showed that contrary to his statement, he had left his home late that evening and did not return until nearly midnight. The video captured a shotgun in the bed of his truck as he pulled back into his driveway, officials said.

Officers say they located a shotgun hidden behind the seats of Van Es’ truck with a single expended shell still in the firearm, the same type used to kill the victim. DNA evidence collected on the scene indicated that he was present at the location where the victim was found.

The trial began on Jan. 31, 2023, and concluded with jurors finding Van Es guilty on Feb. 6, 2023, of first-degree murder with the special allegation that he personally and
intentionally discharged a firearm causing death.