FORT MYERS, Fla. — A Houston man suspected of killing his Instagram influencer wife last fall took his own life Tuesday night as U.S. marshals in Florida tried to take him into custody for murder.
Thomas Sharkey was wanted in the Nov. 27 murder of 26-year-old Alexis Leigh Robinault, who was known on social media by her married name, Alexis Sharkey. A city garbage truck driver spotted her nude body early Nov. 28 in a roadside ditch about 17 miles west of downtown Houston.
Alexis Sharkey had been strangled.
The beauty product influencer was reported missing by friends a few hours after her body was found. Tom Sharkey, who did not report her missing, claimed she’d left home on foot following an argument.
Her body was found about 3 miles from the apartment the couple shared.
“I would like to emphasize that this has been a very tragic series of events for both families, the Robinaults and the Sharkeys,” Sgt. Michael Burrow, a Houston police homicide detective, said Wednesday at a news conference. “They’ve been through hell, essentially, with the attention of the public on this case.”
No one else is suspected of involvement in the murder.
“We have clear evidence that Mr. Sharkey acted alone,” the sergeant said.
Burrow asked that both families be given space and privacy to grieve.
Tom Sharkey spoke with ABC 13 in Houston days after his wife’s body was found. He told the station that his wife had been stressed and unhappy, but insisted that their marriage was a good one.
“I was the one holding her, cuddling her, and building her back up,” Sharkey said at the time. “I don’t need to set the record straight. I’ll let it play out the way it is. I know what my life was with my wife.”
Alexis Sharkey’s family and friends were immediately suspicious of Tom Sharkey, however, as were investigators. According to the Houston Chronicle, the medical examiner switched Alexis Sharkey’s next of kin from her husband to her parents without public explanation.
Her mother, Stacey Robinault, told Fox 26 in Houston in December that the next of kin was swapped after Tom Sharkey had failed for two weeks to make arrangements for her daughter’s funeral.
Burrow said Wednesday that an “evasive” Tom Sharkey left Texas two weeks after the murder and moved to Georgia. Investigators sought a DNA sample from him, but for months were unable to obtain it.
In August, detectives went to Georgia to meet with Sharkey but he didn’t show up, Burrow said.
“He came up with a very bizarre story later on about why he essentially disappeared, and then a short time after that incident, he relocated to Florida,” the detective said.
Watch Wednesday’s news conference below.
Detectives continued investigating the case and were able to establish a history of domestic violence between the couple, who married in 2019. They were also able to confirm what Alexis Sharkey’s friends had previously said about talk of a divorce.
Alexis Sharkey planned to leave her husband. Burrow said the couple had separated at the time of the killing.
“He was interested in reconciling their relationship, and she did not appear to be,” the detective said.
Alexis Sharkey’s friends spoke publicly about her tumultuous marriage last fall.
“Recently, she opened up to us about it, and divorce was being filed,” friend Tanya Ricardo told KHOU. “She was a very private person. She didn’t share a lot about what was going on at home.”
Another friend, whose name was not disclosed, told ABC 13 in Houston that Alexis Sharkey had expressed fear for her safety during a trip together the month before she was slain.
“She confided in me that night ... she (was) petrified,” the friend said. “This girl (was) scared for her life.”
Alexis Sharkey spent Thanksgiving with friends instead of her husband. The group had made plans to meet that Saturday to watch movies.
By then, she was dead.
Tom Sharkey appeared to mourn his wife on social media. He also criticized people who believed he was involved in the crime.
“You all should be ashamed of yourselves! I have been assisting the deputies and making phone calls to find out what happened to my wife,” he wrote on Facebook. “Next time, stop and think! And realize! You don’t know it all!”
He later made his posts private.
Tom Sharkey’s evasiveness, along with other evidence Burrow did not detail, gave the investigators enough probable cause to secure an arrest warrant for murder on Sept. 29, the sergeant said Wednesday.
“The investigation determined that Thomas Sharkey ... is the only person who had the means, motive and opportunity to have committed the murder,” Burrow said. “We were able to eliminate other suspects that came up, some of which were brought up by Mr. Sharkey.”
Sharkey was staying with a relative in Fort Myers, where U.S. marshals knocked on the door around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. When Sharkey realized they were there for him, he ran upstairs.
The marshals found him dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting.
Burrow said neither Sharkey nor his family was aware of the warrant ahead of time. Detectives worked quietly to obtain it due to the high-profile nature of the case.
Burrow said Wednesday that authorities needed to give Alexis Sharkey’s parents details of the evidence against their son-in-law before making any of it public.
“I want to recognize the detectives that worked on this case. A lot of people put in a lot of work into this,” the sergeant said.
Authorities spent months wading through tips in the case, which gained national attention.
“There were a lot of various theories and conspiracy theories that came up that we had to look into and disprove,” Burrow said.
Alexis Sharkey, the oldest of three daughters, grew up in Youngville, Pennsylvania Robinault said last year that her daughter, who had a biology degree, initially planned to study medicine but a “gap year” put her on a different path.
She moved to West Texas, where she met and married Tom Sharkey. The couple moved to Houston in January 2020.
“She loved what she did,” Robinault told KPRC in Houston. “She had been working with an online company and was selling all health-based haircare and body-care products.”
Robinault has not spoken out since Tom Sharkey’s death. Her last Facebook post was on Jan. 24, which would have been Alexis Sharkey’s 27th birthday.
She wrote of the family’s grief, and their determination to see justice done.
“We are still reeling from the realization that you are no longer on this earth, and we are simply crushed,” Robinault wrote. “Today (and every day), it is fitting to celebrate and remember your beautiful soul, spirit and life.
“You reminded us to cherish and embrace every single day of this life, which is exactly what you did. We will.”
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