John Thomas speaks out on Chris Tapp's 'tragic' death, vows to continue fight for justice - East Idaho News
'He won't be forgotten'

John Thomas speaks out on Chris Tapp’s ‘tragic’ death, vows to continue fight for justice

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John Thomas represented Christopher Tapp for several years and the two developed a close friendship. | file photo

IDAHO FALLS — John Thomas was preparing to board a plane for his father’s funeral when Vera Tapp called.

She told him her son, Christopher Tapp, had been seriously injured after falling in a Las Vegas resort room and was in the hospital.

Thomas had known Tapp for years. Professionally he had served as his attorney working to have him released from prison for a murder he did not commit. Personally, they had developed a friendship and had just spoken a few days prior.

“He was flying all over the country working with a car racing team,” Thomas tells “He had been to Michigan and New Orleans and one of the last things he had said to me was he was going to Las Vegas and it was going to be one of his last stops for the year. Then he was coming home.”

Those plans of coming home never happened. Tapp died Nov. 5 in the hospital but not from injuries sustained in an accident; rather, police say the 47-year-old was knocked down, beaten and died of blunt force trauma to the head.

The man behind the alleged attack is 45-year-old Daniel Rodimer, a former Nevada congressional candidate and pro wrestler charged with murder.

“I thought – who is this guy? I had no idea who he was and I don’t know if Chris knew him either,” Thomas says.

After his father’s funeral in Florida, Thomas flew home to Idaho Falls and went to Vera Tapp’s house to begin planning her son’s funeral. At the time, they knew very little about the circumstances surrounding Tapp’s death but over the next few weeks and months, they learned disturbing information.

Chris Tapp kissed by mother
Vera Tapp kisses her son Christopher Tapp on the head moments before he was released from prison. | file photo

“Chris had two different brain bleeds – one on the side and one in the back. I called one of my friends in New York and he said it could have been possible when he fell that he hit his head in two spots,” Thomas says. “Then we were getting a different story that there may have been drugs and something else going on.”

When an arrest warrant was issued for Rodimer, court documents revealed Rodimer and Tapp had been at a Halloween party for a few hours when Rodimer reportedly became angry that Tapp had spoken with his stepdaughter. Rodimer allegedly ran into a bathroom where Tapp was standing, knocked him to the ground and repeatedly punched him “throughout his head and body.”

RELATED | Documents reveal new details about Chris Tapp’s homicide as ex-congressional candidate turns himself in

“I read the (police) report and it all fell together and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so tragic.’ It was so horrible,” Thomas recalls.

Tapp was arrested in 1997 and a jury convicted him the next year for the rape and murder of 18-year-old Angie Dodge in Idaho Falls. He wrongfully confessed to the crime and tried multiple times to appeal the conviction. Tapp was released from prison in 2017 and exonerated in 2019, when investigators arrested 53-year-old Brian Dripps. Dripps, who said he acted alone, pleaded guilty and is serving a 20-year-to-life prison sentence.

Thomas says Tapp had come a long way since getting released from prison when he would have panic attacks walking into Walmart because there were so many options. The panic attacks gradually went away and last year, Tapp was working on establishing his own car racing team.

Vera Tapp is relying on her family and friends while mourning and has “good days and bad days,” according to Thomas. He plans to accompany her to Nevada for Rodimer’s court hearings. He is currently out on $200,000 bail and is set to appear before a judge on April 10.

Thomas spent years fighting for justice on behalf of Tapp and says that work isn’t done.

“I was really proud of Chris and I was really proud of what he had accomplished even in the short time he was out,” Thomas explains. “Chris and I were more than just attorney and client. We had become really good friends and we had become really close…Chris Tapp is somebody who needs to be remembered and is somebody who won’t be forgotten.”

Watch our interview with John Thomas in the video player above.