Morbid podcast

Episode 531: Tom Bird and Lorna Anderson Eldridge

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When Sandy Bird was found dead in her wrecked car in the Cottonwood River in the summer of 1983, everyone assumed the thirty-three-year-old Kansas mother of three had misjudged the turn on the one-lane bridge and gone over the side, her death a tragic accident. Similarly, when Martin Anderson was gunned down on the side of a Kansas state road just a few months later, the residents of Emporia, KS believed he was the victim of robbery gone wrong—the kind of random violence that investigators often struggled to solve.

What no one knew at the time was that the ostensibly accidental death of Sandy Bird and the tragic murder of Martin Anderson were in fact linked by a conspiracy of Sandra’s husband, Tom Bird, and his mistress, Lorna Anderson, designed to rid themselves of their respective spouses. Unfortunately, their plot began unraveling just a few weeks after Martin’s murder and both Tom and Lorna were arrested for the murders, along with their co-conspirators, and eventually went to trial. While the murders shocked the communities in rural Kansas, the most unbelievable aspect of the case was that the killers were a Lutheran pastor and his devout secretary.

Thank you to the wonderful, David White of the Bring Me the Axe podcast, for research assistance!


Close, Dan. 1984. "Minister is accused of soliciting murder." Wichita Eagle-Beacon, March 22: 1.

—. 1984. "Minister ordered to stand trial." Wichita Eagle-Beacon, June 1: 1.

—. 1983. "Slaying victim's wife held." Wichita Eagle-Beacon, November 24: 1.

—. 1983. "Unanswered questions plague K-177 tragedy." Wichita Eagle-Beacon, November 8: 1.

Hayes, Jean. 1985. "Jury in bird trial begins deliberations." Wichita Eagle, July 23: 51.

Hays, Jean. 1985. "Bird's wife described as unhappy." Wichita Eagle, July 12: 15.

Kraft, Scott. 1986. "‘We Don’t Have These Type of People Out Here’ : Murderous Affair Shocks Kansas Town." Los Angeles Times, March 17.

—. 2004. "Who Killed Sandy?" Los Angeles Times Magazine, May 2.

State of Kansas v. Thomas Bird. 1986. 240 Kan. 288 (Supreme Court of Kansas, December 5).

State of Kansas v. Thomas P. Bird. 1985. 708 P.2d 946 (Supreme Court of Kansas, October 25).

United Press International. 1985. "At first no one paid uch attention ." United Press International: Domestic News, August 4.

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