Mickey Thompson

John Bitting

Apr 10, 2001
Rancho Santa Margarita
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The former business partner of motocross racing legend Mickey Thompson was arrested Thursday in the 13-year-old slaying of Thompson and his wife, prosecutors said.

Michael Frank Goodwin, 56, a longtime suspect in the shooting deaths, was booked on two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy, the district attorney's office said. He was held without bail and was to be arraigned Monday.

Thompson, 59, -- once dubbed the "Speed King -- and his wife, Trudy, 41 were shot March 16, 1988, in the driveway of their mansion in a gated community in Bradbury, about 20 miles from Los Angeles.

Investigators have said they believe the slayings were part of a murder-for-hire plot, noting the killers left behind $4,000 in cash and thousands of dollars worth of Trudy Thompson's jewelry.

Witnesses reported seeing two men flee the murder scene on bicycles and prosecutors allege Goodwin aided them by providing a stun gun. The two men have never been captured.

Goodwin, the rock 'n' roll promoter-turned-bike racing enthusiast, had a business partnership with Thompson promoting off-road racing. Their bitter breakup led to a series of lawsuits and a $514,000 court judgment in Thompson's favor. That award helped force Goodwin into bankruptcy.

Goodwin has consistently maintained they patched up their differences shortly before Thompson's slaying and he had no role in the killings.

His lawyer said Thursday's arrest was no surprise.

"We've been expecting it and planned for it," attorney Jeff Benice said. "I don't think anybody, including Mr. Goodwin could put into words the kind of depressing, demeaning conduct and state of mind he's been subjected to by authorities."

Goodwin has said he was being pursued by police and prosecutors who have ties to Thompson's politically connected sister, a victims' rights advocate.

"They will say and do anything to get me," Goodwin said in an interview earlier this year. "I believe they will probably indict me. But they are never going to prove it. I didn't do it."

The murder investigation intensified in recent months when the district attorney convened a grand jury, and police arrested Goodwin but released him hours after he appeared in a lineup.

In the 1950s, Thompson set the first of his nearly 500 auto speed and endurance records. In 1960, he became the first person to travel more than 400 mph on land when he drove a four-engine car 406.6 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Thompson worked in the 1950s to take the sport off the streets and onto sanctioned strips.

As for Goodwin, he earned the title "Father of Supercross" in the 1970s when he moved outdoor motocross shows into stadiums and arenas. Before that, he promoted concerts for The Doors, the Moody Blues, Joe Cocker and Janis Joplin.