Pertinent posts from the Tom Stump Message Board:




Sat Dec 7, 2002: When Tom Stump disappeared was a tracking dog used?


Response by Rose Stump: Det. Penley 8-14-95: "I recontacted Dep. Boyd Williams reference the action he and his canine Ajo had taken. …. Dep. Williams advised that Ajo had tracked from the house back to the fence, then along the inside edge of the fence to the right fence border, then had gone over the fence and paralleled it, on the outside, to the road. Ajo had lost the scent at Crane Blvd and although the opposite side of the road was checked, no trail resumed in the brush on that side of the road." This dog was NOT a cadaver dog. This dog did NOT go into the woods where Tom Stump was said to have entered.



Mon Dec 9, 2002: You say the dog DID NOT go into the woods?  Why did they track only to the road? Didn't one of the children say he went off in a car? Was that comment ever followed up on? What kind of car? What color was the car? Who was in the car? One person? Two people? What time did this happen? If they were looking for a "suicide" victim why didn't they use cadaver dogs?


Response by Rose Stump: That is correct, the dog did NOT go into the woods where Tom supposedly walked. The detectives only went where the dog led them. "The dog was trained for patrol canine use, being drugs, missing persons, etc. Cadaver dogs are specialized dogs and there is not that many uses for them (in the Keys).” Tom's youngest daughter told Det. Penley that Tom left in a car. There were no follow-up questions to this statement.



Tue Dec 10, 2002: Police don't need a specially trained "cadaver dog" to follow the fresh trail of a man who has just walked into the woods! "Cadaver dogs" are used to find deteriorated bodies or skeletons.

The fact that the cops didn't take the dog into the woods is a strong indication that they didn't believe Bernie's story about Tom's going into the woods. The fact that the dog went straight to the road, indicates that Tom walked to the road, not into the woods. Tom's daughter, Sally, said her dad "drove off in a car." No family cars were missing, so somebody obviously picked Tom up in a car, and Tom was never seen again. That doesn't sound like suicide to me. It sounds like abduction.

Taking this one step further -- if Bernie did see Tom walk into the woods, why didn't she demand that the police to take the dog into the woods to help look for him? If Bernie's future husband, Bill Becker, and Bernie's ex-husband, Mark whatever-his-name is -- both of whom were involved in this alleged marathon search of the woods, truly wanted Tom to be found, why didn't THEY ask the police to let the dog join in the search?



Tue Dec 10, 2002: So Tom walks to the road. Why? Only possible reason is that he’s agreed for somebody to pick him up. Who? Not Bernie, because she’s all ready there. Not Becker, if Bernie just told Tom they were having an affair.

Mark, the exhusband-excon, who had become Tom's good friend, eating and sleeping over at there house so he could see his daughter, would be the natural person to say, "Hey, Tom old buddy, that bitch did this to me too. I'll come by and pick you up and we'll compare notes." Ever since then Ripin has had money to live on and travel on and both Bernie and Becker consider him there very dear friend. What crime did Mark serve time for? Was there a weapon involved?


Response by Rose Stump: Mark Ripin served time from 9-26-79 to 10-18-80 for armed robbery.






Thu Dec 12, 2002: I can’t help but wonder if Tom drove off in a car like Sally stated, then Tom would have had to make arrangements for someone to pick him up.  Does the phone bill show whom Tom might have called for a ride?  Were the phone records ever subpoenaed?  Did he call a friend?  Did he call a taxi?  Did he call Mark Ripin?  Did he call Bill Becker?  Did Tom have a cell phone? If so, where those phone records obtained?  Bernie saw Tom leave in a car also doesn’t she know who picked Tom up?


Response by Rose Stump:

(From a report by Det. Penley, 8-7-95):  "I requested Mike Barber at the State Attorney's Office to prepare subpoenas for toll calls from victim's home and business telephone numbers during May, 1995 through the present."


(From a report by Det. Penley and Sgt. Randolph, 8-4-96):  "I recontacted State Attorney Investigator Mike Barber on 6-4-96 reference the existence of telephone records for local calls placed on and around the date of Stump's disappearance. These records had been requested earlier in the investigation, but no records had been received. Barber advised me that he recalled the earlier request, and noted that the telephone company keeps no telephone records for any local calls. He confirmed that this information does not exist."


The copies of the phone records that our family received are dated from April 16, 1995 to July 12, 1995.  Tom disappeared July 24, 1995. Our question is, why weren't any calls listed after July 12?





Tue Nov 5, 2002:

I believe the paperwork that Tom's mother produced is rather interesting. The time of events proves something to someone like myself. I was there the following day, and the only thing Bernie Stump/Becker was interested in me knowing, was "did Bonnie tell you about Bill Becker." I did not know who Bill Becker was at the time.

I recall Bernie Becker saying, "I can see Tom curled up in a ball, all shot up." I remember this very well, for at the time I found it difficult to compute how someone who commits suicide could be "all shot up."

I went to the memorial for Tom Stump at St. Peter's Church, it was announced in the paper. I saw no Bernie, Bill, Sally or Bonnie. I only saw two suffering people, trying to cope with their loss.

On the other hand, I have witnessed Mr. and Mrs. Becker in public enjoying their lives from an extremely early period of time for my way of thinking. I found it difficult to understand why a woman would take her children on vacation one week after their father, and her husband disappeared; whatever the reason he was missing.  I have listened to Mr. Becker on occasion on the radio say "his wife" several years prior to their marriage, knowing that wasn't a true statement, for Tom Stump was not declared dead until 5 years later.

I personally saw Tom Stump the day prior to him disappearing. His demeanor was pleasant as he told me that he had just finished putting the pool in their yard for his family. I noticed no distress, no sadness, no anger, just pure graceful kindness.





Tue Jan 21, 2003

Posted by Tom’s brother, Chad:

I was at Tom’s house shortly after his strange disappearance.  I was also involved with search of the areas surrounding his home.  In this search, I wore a pair of Tom’s old combat boots, the kind he loved so well!  He had recently purchased a new pair, but only ONE of those boots was there.  I found this disappearance of his right boot to be strange.  If Tom walked out behind his house, he must of only had one boot on.  Or maybe he was killed with only one boot on.



Thu Feb 6, 2003

Posted by Bernie and Bill Becker:

The missing boot was sent back to the mail order because we were sent two of the same foot..understand?



May 22, 2003

Posted by “Junior Detective”:

I submitted the following question to 7 mail order boot companies:


“If a customer accidentally received 2 left books from you, how would you go about correcting the error?  Would you have the customer return one of the left boots, so you could replace it with a right boot?  Or would you have the customer return both boots, so you could replace them with a whole new PAIR?”


Without exception, every company that responded said they ALWAYS require the return of both boots.  They will only replace them as a PAIR.


So Bernie lied on this message board (as well as to Bill Becker) when she said the missing boot was sent back for replacement.  Why would she lie unless she was scared of what the truth about that missing boot might reveal?






Sat Jan 4, 2003

Posted by Tom Stump’s employee:

For the time being, I wish to remain anonymous. Some of you out there know very well who I am, but I wish not to sign my name. I knew Tom Stump very well for many years in the Florida Keys. There is no way in hell he took his own life. The facts are the facts and I have intimate knowledge of all the unsavory details.

I last spoke to Tom on the morning of his disappearance in 1995, he was not suicidal. Perhaps a bit distressed over the ongoing affair Bernie had been having with Becker, but not in any way suicidal. The actions he took that July morning were not the acts of a man that would do himself in a few hours later. The trip to the bank where the tellers found him to be in fine spirits, the trip to the Chevron to get a full tank of gas, the trip to the Post Office on Summerland to put business mail on hold for his upcoming vacation....are these the actions of a man on the verge of suicide?

I knew Tom Stump and Scott Haskell well, as I was in their employ for a number of years. I will never forget the day I went with Scott Haskell to the Stump residence, shortly after the disappearance. Bernadette, that scary woman, came out of the house swinging with both fists at Scott Haskell, she was like a crazy woman, which, in fact, I believe she is. I and Bill Becker had to pull her away from Scott Haskell. I have no doubt that Mr. Haskell has been threatened by them and no doubt he may fear for his life. I can fully understand this after seeing the wild look she had on that day.

To say that Tom's life was out of control, that he was a gun nut and a drug addict cannot be further from the truth. Sure he owned guns.... is that not the right of every American? To say he was a drug addict.... well I know for a fact that he liked to smoke some marijuana, but I see no harm in that. Bernadette was the one with a serious drug problem. Have any of you considered that she was fired from a job and arrested for filling out false prescriptions? I remember in the beginning days of Tom and Bernie’s relationship how she demanded he supply her with cocaine.  She was and likely is to this day, the epitome of a coke whore.

This whole matter stinks and one would hope sooner or later the truth will be out.

I will be back...thank you for your time...I get upset just thinking about this matter, but I do have more to say.





Tue Jan 28, 2003

Posted by Tom Stump’s employee:

OK, I am back. I posted here a few weeks ago, anonymously. I wish to remain that anonymity. But I will say that I was in the past an employee of Tom Stump and Scott Haskell. You know, try as I might to forget this incident, it keeps creeping back into my thoughts.

I have a couple of lingering questions that I cannot figure out the answer to. In my recollection, shortly after Tom and Bernie were married, he caught her having an affair with Bill Becker. She was immediately thrown out of the house by Tom and she went to live with Bill Becker. Eventually after a period of time she begged her way back. The question that haunts me is ...Why would Tom throw her out after the first incident, but decide to take his life the second time? It makes no sense.

Now this is an interesting anecdote. After Scott Haskell returned from his vacation, a few days after Tom's "disappearance", I went with Scott to Tom’s house to get tools from the company truck. As we were leaving, we could not help but notice that the recycle bin for the garbage men was filled with champagne bottles. Is drinking that much champagne a form of grief, or a form of celebration?

After seeing the champagne bottles, we decided to poke around in the garbage can out of curiosity. You know what...the garbage was filled with BLACK gift wrapping paper and BLACK bows. I nearly got sick seeing that kind of disgusting cynicism.


Wed Jan 29, 2003

Posted by Bill Becker:

That "champagne" story is just another example of how sick and twisted these rumors have become. For the record, it was one old bottle of Andre (hardly a cause for celebration) that one of the searchers found in the refrigerator and opened. There was no "celebration". There were no black ribbons, only the black neck wrapping that comes with the bottle. To imply that anyone was celebrating Tom's disappearance has to be one of the worst things that has been said on this message board.

Bill Becker


Wed Jan 29, 2003

From Detective Penley’s report, 8/14/1995

"Victims partner, Scott Haskell, advised Detective Ward that he had been over at the victim’s house and had observed WRAPPING PAPERS WITH BLACK RIBBONS AND BOWS in the trash can."


Wed Jan 29, 2003

Becker states that only ONE bottle of champagne was consumed when Tom Stump vanished.  Scott Haskell's employee says he and Scott discovered other bottles in the trash bin, but those may have been consumed a day or so later.

Becker is correct when he states that one bottle of bubbly doesn't constitute a party.  What it does suggest is an intimate twosome toasting each other while celebrating some sort of victory.  It's interesting to note that, after eight years, Mr. Becker has a precise memory of the brand of champagne that "one of the searchers found in the refrigerator and opened."





Thu Dec 12, 2002:  Mrs. Stump haven't you had any connect with the girls since Tom disappearance? If not why not?


Response by Rose Stump:  Bonnie wrote to us through a third party, but when Bernie found out, she put a stop to it. Then through the computer Bonnie and I were able to correspond through e-mail messages. That too, has stopped. For the first year after Tom's death, Sally and I talked on the phone. Becker called me and advised me not to call down there anymore because I upset the girls, even though no mention was made of Tom's death in those conversations. He even lied and said they were not home when Bernie would answer on another phone and let me talk to them. But soon the phone calls stopped.  The letters stopped. And they moved on with their lives. Although Bonnie and I are not blood related, I always told her we were related through LOVE .





Wed Feb 19, 2003

When Tom told one of his daughters he was going to try to keep the family together, he might have meant the family unit of himself and the kids. From all accounts, Tom was the primary caregiver. He went to work at 6 a.m. so he could take off early to look after the girls after school, he cooked their dinner, he oversaw homework, he put them to bed. Under the circumstances he had a good chance of getting custody and he sounds like the kind of father who would have demanded it.


Wed Feb 19, 2003

Whoever thinks tom was wonder father is crazy....going to work at 6 am..making the girls dinner..etc. You obviosly didnt know any of the parties involved. People who just read this site will form completely unrealistic and false opinions about the principals in this case. Tom wasnt a bad father, but he is totally not the person described by the post 2 or 3 ago on this board.If he cooked 10 dinners id be very surprised ...and so would tom! He would get a good laugh at that one.


Wed Feb 19, 2003

Posted by Rose Stump:

In July of 1996, my daughter, Stasi, asked Bonnie to write about a typical day in the life of Tom. I will quote some of the passages from her letter: "On a typical weekday, most usually Tom would wake Sally up first, early around 6:00, then me before he left. I remember every single morning I would jump out of bed at the sound of his truck starting up, then run to the window where I would crash into Sally, and we would wave him off to work...he usually came home around 2:30, give or take a 1/2 hour, then he would work in the yard until I came home from school. HE WAS THE ONE WHO ALWAYS MADE DINNER...after everything was finished he took his rest time and watched t.v. in the living room. I think he watched the news first, then any western show, or football. But before Sally watched any t.v. he helped her with her home work......At bed time he would always come and kiss me goodnight, then lay down with Sally because she couldn't fall asleep by herself. When Sally would finally fall asleep he would sneak back out to the living room and watch t.v. until he fell asleep....These are little things that I always took for granted, but now see how important that they were in my life....He was very strict on eating a balanced diet, a food from every food group could be found on my plate every night. I miss being able to hug him, kiss him and tell him I love him. ...I can't get personal like that with Mark, and a mom can't substitute for a dad. I just miss the little things more than I ever thought I would." These are the thoughts of a teenager and how she remembers her father.  Maybe you didn't know Tom as well as you thought you did.





Thu Jan 23, 2003

According to Webster: A RED HERRING is something used to confuse, or to divert attention from something else. Now, let's look at the red herrings in the Tom Stump case:


8/10/95: Dave, a friend of Bernie's, told Det. Penley he had been looking for vulture activity in the area and had thought he had smelled something bad in the vicinity of Mangrove Mama's.


8/10/95: DOT Supervisor Robeson in Marathon received information about a call at his office from Bill Becker saying there was vulture activity reported around the 19 mile marker. Sue Hodges, who worked at that agency, had taken the call on 8/9/95 at 11 a.m. Considering it a possible hoax, she had written down exactly what the man had said.  Becker identified himself as a friend of the family and said this was a possible suicide case around the 19 mile marker. The subject had told her that this had occurred approximately 2 weeks ago, and requested them to "please, look, you may find him."


According to the Audubon Society ALL of the vultures had left the area prior to Stump's disappearance, which explains why none had been seen in the area near the home. The turkey vultures come to that area in mid October and leave around May. Tom's disappearance was 7/24/95


1/31/96: Bernadette Stump gave Det. Powell the name “Martin Thomas” as someone who might know something about Tom's whereabouts. Martin and Stump had known each other professionally and had run into each other at a gun show in Fort Lauderdale the year before, neither knowing that each shared that common interest. Martin Thomas did not even know Stump had disappeared.


2/21/96: Bernadette Stump gave Det. Powell the name of “Chris Lawson.” He owned property in Costa Rica, and she told Powell that Lawson might know where Stump was. Lawson told Powell that he and Stump had only a business relationship and he was surprised to learn that Tom had disappeared.


ALL RED HERRINGS... remember Becker moved into the Stump home in August of 1995.