Video surveillance shows Tommy Booth, 24, and his friends arriving at Bootleggers nightclub in Woodlyn the night of January 19, 2008. No one ever saw him leave. Two weeks later, after a warm spell melted the ice, he was found in the creek behind the bar. Tommy had epilepsy and was taking medication.
Search and Recovery
Police initially searched the area in the vicinity of the bar with no success. Tommy's mother and stepfather also organized search parties. There had been no activity on Tommy's cell phone or bank account since his disappearance.
On Sunday, February 3, 2008 about 30 volunteers from the Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue Team organized a search with about seven K-9s and searched the wooded area behind the bar and creek and the ramps to I-95. After about two hours, they found Booth lying face down in the Ridley Creek about 200 yards downstream from the bar. According to Detective Sgt. Scott Willoughby, the rear of the bar is about 10 yards from the creek.
It was just he was in the club, and then he was in the creek, said Tommy's step-father, Tim Bush. "It never made any sense how he got there."
Portions of the creek had been frozen, but heavy rains and warmer temperatures the week prior to the search had melted sections.
A Puzzling Case
The coroner ruled Tommy's death an accidental drowning. There were no signs of trauma, not even a bump on the head. "This case always puzzled me," said Detective Sgt. Scott Willoughby. Tommy was a healthy, robust young man and hadn't had enough to drink to become disoriented. Booth, was still in possession of his wallet, cell phone and medication.“There’s no obvious sign of foul play,” said Detective Sgt. Scott Willoughby. “We don’t know what happened. I can’t figure out why he would have been back there. He doesn’t know this area, doesn’t know the bar.”
ABC Action 6 News, Philadelphia: http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/index