Spectrum’s parent company must pay deceased woman’s family after service technician takes her life.
A Dallas County, Texas, jury has found Charter Communications (owner of Spectrum) to be negligent in a 2019 burglary and fatal stabbing of an elderly woman at the hands of her cable installer. The jury awarded the family $357 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages are still being considered.
Betty Thomas, 83, scheduled a service call to have cable installed in December 2019. Little did she know, this decision would cost her her life. Spectrum cable installer Roy Holden Jr. responded, came out to her home and installed her cable. Then, the following day, he returned and committed the crime while dressed in his Spectrum uniform and using the company’s service vehicle. He stabbed Thomas multiple times on her neck and forearm, leaving her body on the living room floor. He later said he used his Spectrum work gloves and Charter Communications knife to kill her.
When police arrived, Holden gave a statement, saying, “So, I had stopped there because I was broke. I was hungry.” Holden pleaded guilty to murder in 2021 and is currently serving life in prison.
The verdict followed 11 days of testimony in a Dallas County courtroom. Attorneys said that “testimony revealed failures of the company’s pre-employee screening, hiring and supervision practices as well as failures to address known warning signs and control the off-duty use of company vehicles,” according to course documents.
Thus far, Charter has been ordered to pay Thomas’s family 90% of the damage amount and officials closest to the matter said that his could increase when punitive damages come into play.
“While we respect the jury and the justice system, we strongly disagree with the verdict and plan to appeal,” according to a statement released by officials with Charter Communications/Spectrum. “The law in Texas and the facts presented at trial clearly show this crime was not foreseeable. At Charter, we are committed to the safety of all our customers and took the necessary steps, including a thorough pre-employment criminal background check – which showed no arrests, convictions or other criminal behavior. Nor did anything in Mr. Holden’s performance after he was hired suggest he was capable of the crime he committed, including more than 1,000 completed service calls with zero customer complaints about his behavior. Our hearts go out to Mrs. Thomas’ family in the wake of this senseless and tragic crime. The responsibility for this horrible act rests solely with Mr. Holden, and we are grateful he is in prison for life.”
Despite this statement, during the trial, testimony revealed that Holden had made several statements to supervisors about considerable personal and financial issues having to do with a divorce and had even broken down in tears as a company meeting. He had also began scamming elderly female Spectrum customers, pocketing their credit cards and check books.
Holden was off-duty the day following Thomas’ service call, but had learned that she was having connectivity issues. He used this as an excuse to once again gain entry to the home. Thomas’ family received a $58 charge from Charter following the service call, and said the bills continued to come until they were ultimately sent to a collection’s agency.