Five terrifying details surrounding the murder of Texas pathologist Dr. Joseph Sonnier
Dr. Joseph Sonnier, a pathologist from Lubbock, Texas, was murdered in his own house, leaving the police and his loved ones with a trail of unanswered questions. With each disturbing revelation, the case got even stranger than it already was: a murder-for-hire scheme, a convoluted love triangle, and two damaged families (those of the victim and the murderer).
Following David Shepard’s conviction for the murder in 2013, it has been over ten years since the horrible murder of a well-known doctor, whose death was the consequence of a poorly thought-out plot. Now, NBC Dateline is finally going to explore the case. Thomas Dixon, a different doctor, was supposedly at the core of it all. Thomas Dixon was his ex-infatuated girlfriend’s and delusional boyfriend.
This Saturday, August 13, 2022, at 9:00 p.m. ET, NBC will broadcast the Lone Star Obsession episode. The summary reads:
“Investigators are baffled as to why someone would wish to kill a doctor when he is found deceased. Police find a love triangle and smoldering resentments. On Saturday, August 13 at 9/8c on NBC, Andrea Canning will report.”
1) Stalking of Joseph Sonnier and his girlfriend
The relationship between Joseph Sonnier and Richelle Shetina is said to have angered Dr. Thomas Dixon. According to the prosecution, he so paid off his pal David Shepard to find Sonnier and then murder him.
Shetina allegedly stated that when strange things started happening, she was in Los Angeles and on a special trip to Paris to celebrate her 50th birthday with Sonnier. A bizarre letter that claimed to be from Sonnier’s ex-girlfriend greeted her when she got home in February 2012, a few months before the murder, and she claimed she had been followed.
2) He was killed about two years after his wife passed away.
On the second death anniversary of their mother’s murder, Joseph Sonnier’s children in Texas learned of their father’s death. Sonnier’s second wife, Becky Gallegos, was allegedly shot and killed on July 12, 2010, by her second husband, who then shot himself in the head. Sonnier was discovered dead inside his Lubbock house after being shot and stabbed.
James and Joseph Sonnier, Sonnier’s sons, released a statement that read,
“My brother and I also lost our mother two years ago, tragically, although for very unrelated reasons. We can categorically state that there is no connection between the two circumstances.”
3) Sonnier unwittingly became embroiled in a difficult love triangle.
When Dr. Joseph Sonnier began dating Richelle Shetina in July 2011, he unintentionally entered a love triangle. Dr. Thomas Dixon, an Amarillo plastic surgeon, and Shetina previously had a romantic relationship. After several months of ups and downs, Shetina ended their relationship.
Dixon supposedly had an obsession with her and would do everything to win her back. However, in this case, all he needed to do was get rid of Sonnier and wait for her to come running back to him. Even better, he paid Shepard, a friend of his, to “create a wedge” between the two. But the hired assassin really killed the intended victim.
4) Joseph Sonnier was not David Shepard’s intended victim.
Hitman David Shepard said that neither he nor the doctor who hired him for the hit never intended to kill the victim in the peculiar murder case of Texas doctor Joseph Sonnier. Shepard allegedly disclosed the details of what happened on the July night when they first met and killed Sonnier. He stated:
“It became out of control. Gun accidentally discharged. I’m squeezing closer to check on him. After falling into the window, I quickly turn around to see what is happening. Dr. Sonnier, are you okay? I asked. Go into the garage if you don’t hear anything. He is lying face down. I catch his final breath. I stoop down. No pulse is present.”
Additionally, Shepard said that he reportedly stabbed Sonnier in an idiotic and foolish attempt to cover up what he claimed to be an inadvertent homicide. Added he,
“He was stabbed by me several times. The prosecution’s estimate of the number and I cannot agree. Eleven, I believe they stated. I was holding Dr. Sonnier’s phone and thought about dialing 911 to contact the police, but I decided against it. I then placed it back in, dismembered his body parts, tried to hide it, and made it appear to be something else.”
5) Hayley, Shepard’s daughter, gave a defiant testimony.
David Shepard said in his early admissions to killing Joseph Sonnier that he did so at Thomas Dixon’s request after the latter gave him three silver bars and other valuables in exchange for Sonnier’s murder. About two years later, during Dixon’s trial, he was crucial witness.
Shepard, who had previously agreed to a plea agreement, unexpectedly changed his story while testifying, insisting that Dixon had nothing to do with it. He said that he did everything on his own. A deadlocked jury resulted in a mistrial being declared in the case.
Haley Shepard, David Shepard’s daughter, gave the most convincing testimony for the prosecution in the Amarillo surgeon’s 2015 retrial, claiming that she thought her father may have lied under oath during the initial trial to support his buddy and purported business associate, Dixon.
This Saturday, August 13, at 9 p.m. ET, NBC Dateline will air the complete Joseph Sonnier narrative.