- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A federal court has entered a default judgment against a Nebraska prison inmate in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a college student who disappeared in 2010.

U.S. District Judge John Gerrard granted a motion Tuesday filed on behalf of the family of Tyler “Ty” Thomas. The motion said defendant Joshua Keadle had failed to respond to the family’s lawsuit and should be judged in default, under federal court procedural rules.

Thomas was 19 when she disappeared days before Christmas in 2010 after leaving a party near the Peru State College campus. Keadle, 33, who’s serving a sentence in an unrelated 2008 rape case, has not been charged criminally in the Thomas case. Authorities have said he made several statements that led investigators to believe he was involved.

“It is important that Keadle be held accountable for Ty’s death,” the family’s attorney, Vince Powers, told the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1Po7NiP ) on Wednesday. “And the only way we can do that in our civil justice system is with a verdict that honors her life.”

He said a jury trial will determine damages this fall.

Keadle has denied killing Thomas in past interviews with media after her disappearance. He will be eligible for parole beginning in late 2018.

The family sued Keadle and the Nebraska State College Board in 2012, saying Peru State ignored warnings that Keadle, a fellow student, was a possible threat to women at the college, given Keadle’s brushes with the law.

Gerrard dismissed the college board from the lawsuit on July 28, saying that while officials could have done more to protect Thomas, the decision to not expel Keadle didn’t rise to the level of deliberate indifference by college officials.

A death certificate was issued for Thomas in 2013, although her body hasn’t been found.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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