Crime - Sacto 911

Boyfriend of slain Sacramento woman calls her a ‘golden bird’

Ana Thomas
Ana Thomas Courtesy of Nicoleta Rista

She was a young country girl who loved to cook. He was a retired sailor.

Ana and Viorel Thomas married in Romania and moved to Sacramento in 2009 for a better life. Despite the couple’s 35-year age difference, they appeared to be in love, said Sorina Thomas, 44, the daughter of Viorel Thomas.

Tragedy struck Saturday when Viorel Thomas, 72, gunned down his 37-year-old wife in their Foothill Farms townhouse before turning the trigger on himself, authorities said.

Ana Thomas had just returned to the home to pick up some clothes, said her sister Nicoleta Rista, 45. Two weeks ago, the victim told her husband she was leaving him for another man, Florian Silisteanu, according to Rista.

“Of course, he was jealous,” Rista said of the husband on Monday. “You know, a jealous man can do anything.”

Sacramento County sheriff’s officials said it was unclear what happened before the shooting, but neighbors reportedly heard a woman screaming after the initial shots rang out just after 7 p.m. in the 5700 block of Shadow Creek Drive in unincorporated Sacramento County. A handgun was discovered next to the bodies. Officials said the suspect died with a single gunshot to the head.

Speaking by phone from Fort Irwin in Southern California, Sorina Thomas said she was grieving for her stepmother.

“I talked to my dad the day before he did it. He acted like everything was OK,” Sorina Thomas said. “I was in shock at first. I was grieving. But the next day, it turned into anger. He took Ana, and she was an amazing person.”

Sorina Thomas continued, “The first time I met her, she gave me a collage of pictures of me and my family as a gift. She was that kind of person – she loved everybody.”

Ana Thomas was born in Azuga, a small town two hours by car from the Romanian capital of Bucharest, according to her sister. The victim loved to read books and write poetry. She married her husband primarily because she wanted to come to the United States, her sister said.

“He had some money, and she wanted to come to the U.S. for a better life,” Rista said.

According to a website for her startup catering business, RomAna Catering, Ana Thomas studied in a hospitality program in Bucharest and later in the hospitality management program at American River College.

Rista said the suspect was verbally abusive to Ana Thomas and a heavy drinker. Sorina Thomas confirmed that her father often consumed alcohol and noted that he had also been abusive to his first wife, who died a year before he married Ana Thomas.

The Thomases lived in a fourplex on Shadow Creek Drive, in a unit at the end of the street overlooking tree-lined Arcade Creek. The street was quiet Monday afternoon. Golden leaves swirled from wind-whipped trees. On the step outside the door to the couple's residence lay a single bouquet of flowers.

According to Rista, the victim met her boyfriend, Silisteanu, 52, during a Romanian festival in Sacramento when the two shared stories over a jar of jam. The pair quickly fell in love, and they took a trip to New York earlier this month for a poetry festival. In photos on Facebook, Silisteanu and Ana Thomas are seen happily posing at several tourist sites, including the Statue of Liberty.

Silisteanu, speaking Monday through an interpreter, said that three weeks ago, Viorel Thomas had threatened his wife, saying that he would buy a gun, shoot her and Silisteanu, then commit suicide.

Silisteanu said that after returning from New York, Ana Thomas had gone to her residence intending to retrieve her clothes and her car and leave. Silisteanu said he had wanted to go with her, but she told him she wanted to go alone.

Silisteanu, a poet, described Ana Thomas as a “golden bird,” a sensitive person who shared his love of art and poetry. In recent days, he said, he had been writing love poems for her. “But it’s too late,” he said. “The bird is gone.”

Rista wonders if the deaths could have been prevented, but described her sister as being “happy” with the new relationship.

“Everything happened too fast,” Rista said.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang