Contractor Murdered College Administrator Who Was Found in Tub After Complaining About Workmanship

Thomas E. Clark has been convicted of the murder, rape and abduction of 53-year-old Suzanne Fairman

Suzanne Fairman
Photo: Facebook

A Virginia man faces life in prison after being convicted of the rape and murder of a college administrator in her home.

Thomas E. Clark was found guilty of killing 53-year-old Suzanne Fairman on May 19, 2019, and leaving her body in the bathtub of her home. He was charged with murder, rape and abduction with the intent to defile. His trial began earlier this week.

In their opening statements on Monday, prosecutors said Clark, 61, was part of a landscaping crew that had stained Fairman's deck. Fairman complained that the work was sloppy, and had them come back and redo the job.

Prosecutors say that Clark held Fairman, an administrator at Virginia Commonwealth University, at knifepoint. They allege that he then raped and strangled her. Her body was found in a bathtub with the water running. A bloody knife was found on the counter, and authorities say that Clark's bandana was also found in the bathroom.

Additionally, prosecutors said that Clark's DNA was found all over the bathroom, as well as on Fairman's body.

Thomas Clark
Henrico County Jail

According to, Clark was arrested on unrelated charges a week after Fairman's murder.

PEOPLE confirms that Clark has a lengthy criminal history. He spent nearly 15 years in prison for the 1988 rape of a woman in Alexandria, Va. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and assault. He spent nearly 10 years in prison for that offense.

But Clark's attorneys told jurors he wasn't guilty of Fairman's rape and murder. According to WTVR, defense attorneys acknowledged during opening statements that the facts of the case are "disturbing," but insisted that the state could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defense lawyers told the eight women and six men of the jury that Clark's items were found in the home because he had been working there. They also alleged that authorities mishandled some of the crucial evidence in the case.

The prosecution and defense rested their cases on Wednesday morning. The jury reached the verdict after deliberating for an hour and 20 minutes.

Clark will be sentenced on February 14, 2022. His attorneys told WTVR after the verdict that he may appeal.

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