Thomas Larson Bodnarczuk

Age: 18 | State: | County: Santa Clara | Case Status: Conviction

My son Thomas Larson Bodnarczuk was “edgy” and stood apart from many societal expectations, exhibiting an unconventional type of wisdom that exceeded his years. He sought-out kids (often younger kids) who were being ignored, treated poorly, or marginalized by the “in-crowd” and befriended them, helped them feel accepted for who they were, and often these people became some of his closest and longest lasting friendships. Thomas was a self-professing Christian until the day he died. He was baptized at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Breckenridge, Colorado on Sunday, April 27, 2003, and he made a public profession of faith on March 3, 2013, at First Presbyterian Church in Boulder, Colorado where he reaffirmed the vows that my wife Elin and I made for him as a child.

Thomas came home from working at Kohl’s department store at 9:10 pm on Saturday, May 1, 2021. My wife and I chatted with him about how things went at work and how he was doing in general, and then he went to his room. That was the last time we saw our son alive. Thomas went to his room and took what he thought was a prescription Xanax pill that he bought on Snap Chat for fifteen dollars. He was trying to relax, calm his stress, anxiety and play some video games after work. About 9:30 PM he ordered some food from Door Dash, but he never lived to eat it. The Xanax that he took was a counterfeit pill that contained fentanyl and that one pill killed him. He died in his bed at about 10 PM that night. I found his cold, lifeless body on Sunday May 2, 2021, when I went to wake him for our on-line church service.

Four days later, the police sergeant who was heading-up the investigation into Thomas’ death called and said they’d arrested the person who sold Thomas the pill that killed him. The preliminary toxicology report indicated that Thomas was poisoned by a counterfeit Xanax pill that contained three-times the lethal dose of fentanyl. Since our language shapes our reality, it’s important to be perfectly clear about what happened to Thomas. He was deceived by a counterfeit prescription medication. Thomas did not “overdose.” He was poisoned.

The Santa Clara County DA wanted to hold the defendant accountable for killing Thomas, but a 2021 ruling from the California Supreme Court regarding the charge of great bodily injury prevented him from charging the defendant in Thomas’ death. More specifically, the California Supreme Court had ruled that a conviction for providing a controlled substance to someone who subsequently suffers injury from its use is not sufficient to prove the person providing the substance inflicted great bodily injury. Instead, the defendant was charged with five felonies related to possession and transportation of fentanyl and Xanax.

The DA had to propose a sentence within the precedent of previous cases like ours, where sentences have ranged from a maximum of eight years in prison, to a minimum of no jail time, just probation. The defendant tried to rope-a-dope the legal system to reduce the consequences as much as possible. After seven court appearances, strung-out over a year and a half, the defendant finally accepted a plea deal of 3 years in custody, with the first year in county jail, and the last two years on probation. I insisted that a strong admonishment was placed in the sentencing records so that if the defendant does this again, he’ll be tried for murder. But he was out in six months – to the day. The DA was an amazing help and support to my wife and I over the two-year period from arrest to sentencing – he was an island of excellence in the sea of mediocrity of a dysfunctional legal system.

The complete story of Thomas’ life and death is described in Mark Bodnarczuk’s forthcoming memoir entitled, Finding New Life After the Death of My Son, available worldwide on websites like

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