Murder or suicide? Ashley Fallis’ parents are convinced that their son-in-law killed their daughter after a New Year’s party in the early hours of 2012 -- but Tom Fallis insists Ashley pulled the trigger on herself.
Joel Raguindin and Jenna Fox loved their daughter Ashley, right. After the end of her first marriage, still just in her early 20s, Ashley and her two daughters moved back home, and their close relationship grew tighter.
When Ashley met Tom Fallis in April 2007, he seemed responsible and ready for a family. But Ashley’s parents say they were wary of parts of Tom’s personality that they saw as controlling, and about how quickly their romance progressed.
A short time after they started dating, Ashley became pregnant, and she and Tom Fallis had a son, Blake. They were soon married and their family settled in Evans, Colorado, about an hour north of Denver. Tom took a job with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office as a Corrections Officer.
When Blake was still just a toddler, he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid builds up in the brain. Ashley dove into researching treatment options, and over the next few years Blake had to undergo a number of surgeries.
The stress of caring for Blake’s health took a toll on Tom and Ashley’s relationship. In the summer of 2011, Jenna Fox says that Ashley considered divorcing Tom, but Tom later insisted that they had been going to counseling, Ashley was taking medication, and that things were on the mend.
Going into 2012, Tom and Ashley Fallis decided to throw a New Year’s Eve party. Tom said Ashley had recently taken a pregnancy test that had come back positive, but earlier that day she bled and believed she miscarried. But they went ahead with the party, and people there said they were having fun – even dancing together shortly before the ball dropped.
But something happened during the party. Jenna Fox says that early in the night her son-in-law, Tom, became upset with her. He calmed down, but then later, as Ashley’s family was getting ready to leave, Tom “flew into a fit of rage,” cursing at them, and went into he and Ashley’s bedroom and slammed the door.
Ashley’s parents say they had seen Tom Fallis get angry like this before, and decided to go. They were the last guests to leave that night, and say they went outside in front of Ashley and Tom’s home at around 12:40 a.m., waved goodbye to Ashley and left. That was the last time they would see her alive.
At 12:50 a.m., a frantic Tom Fallis called 911. He screamed that Ashley had just shot herself in the head and begged her not to leave him. First responders arrived on the scene and found Tom holding the wound in Ashley’s head, and quickly transported her to the hospital. But her injuries were too severe and she died a few hours later.
Officers brought Tom Fallis to the Evans Police station. Still covered with Ashley’s blood, he told them how he had been angry with Ashley’s mother and that Ashley was upset. He said he saw Ashley kneel next to their bed where she kept her gun, and that he had been in their closet, across the room, when he heard a “pop” and ran out to find Ashley collapsed from the gunshot wound.
At the station, a detective questioned Tom Fallis about scratches that appeared to be on his chest – suggesting a possible struggle – but he claimed he had scratched himself after recently shaving his chest hair. The detective also mentioned a neighbor overheard Ashley screaming “get off me,” but Tom denied they had fought that night.
Back at the Fallis house, police photographed the scene, and focused on photos in Tom and Ashley’s bedroom that appeared to have been knocked off the walls. But the Evans police released Tom that morning, and Ashley’s death was soon determined to be a suicide. The case was officially closed two months later.
Ashley Fallis’ parents were convinced that Tom killed her. Reporter Justin Joseph got a tip that something wasn’t right with this case, and over two years later, conducted his own investigation. He uncovered new information that questioned the findings of the Evans Police. Most surprisingly, a witness told Joseph that he had overheard Tom confessing to shooting Ashley, and said he had told that to an Evans Police officer directly after it happened.
When Evans Police Chief Rick Brandt was confronted with Joseph’s new information, he requested another department re-investigate Ashley’s death. In November, 2014, Tom Fallis was arrested and charged with her murder. In March, 2016, his trial began.