Man accused in Palm Beach chef’s slaying had drinks with him hours before he vanished

After meeting a Palm Beach pantry chef for drinks at a Lantana restaurant last month, Robert William Thompson killed his companion, dumped the body in a Wellington-area canal and used the chef’s credit cards and blood-stained car, authorities said Friday. 

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday arrested Thompson in the murder of Stanley Parrales, whose decomposed remains were found Wednesday by a fisherman.

The remains were recovered more than two weeks after Parrales, 49, was reported missing from his Lake Worth home. 

Thompson, 36, appeared in court Friday morning at the Palm Beach County Jail to face charges of second-degree murder, fraudulent use of a credit card, unlawful possession of a credit card and grand theft of motor vehicle. Jail records do not list a current address for him.

On Friday, Judge Ted Booras ordered that Thompson be held without bail. Booras also ordered that Thompson have no contact with Parrales’ family.

Parrales worked for more than 20 years preparing salads and cold foods at Club Colette, the Palm Beach restaurant’s owner said Friday. 

“He was the kindest, gentlest soul,” owner Daniel Ponton said.

Ponton said he was concerned when Parrales did not report as scheduled for a Saturday shift. He last worked the night of Feb. 16, four days before authorities began a missing persons investigation. 

“He never missed a day since the day I hired him,” Ponton said. “Not even a sick day.”

A person fishing off the 13000 block of Doubletree Circle, off Southern Boulevard near Big Blue Trace, found Parrales’ remains Wednesday after detecting a foul smell in the area, the sheriff’s office said. 

The scene was preserved overnight and a forensic anthropologist spent Thursday removing the remains.

Parrales’ domestic partner reported him missing Feb. 20, telling investigators he had not been heard from in four days. In the days after Parrales was reported missing, deputies made multiple efforts to find him, including checking area hospitals, the report said. 

An arrest report made public Friday said Thompson and Parrales knew each and had met for drinks at the Old Key Lime House on Ocean Avenue just prior to Parrales’ disappearance.

Cellphone records show that Parrales called Thompson the night of Feb. 16. Surveillance footage showed Thompson and Parrales leaving the restaurant together, the sheriff’s office said. 

However, investigators tracked several charges on one of Parrales’ credit cards on the morning of Feb. 17 with surveillance-camera images showing Thompson making the purchases, including several large ones at a Palm Springs Walmart, according to the report. 

Deputies on Feb. 27 tracked Parrales’ Nissan Infiniti to an address in suburban West Palm Beach and found Thompson seated in the driver’s seat.

Thompson told detectives that Parrales picked him up at about 9:30 p.m. Feb. 16 to have drinks at the Old Key Lime House, the sheriff’s office said.

Thompson claimed that Parrales allowed him to drive the Infiniti and stayed behind at the restaurant. At first, he denied using  Parrales’ credit card, but investigators say he later told them the chef gave it to him to use.  

Detectives obtained a warrant to search the Infiniti. There were several areas in the vehicle that tested positive for blood, as well as evidence someone had tried to clean the blood, the arrest report said.

A man who described himself as Thompson’s friend said Thompson showed up at his home unexpectedly and asked for bleach to clean the inside of the car. The man said Thompson told him he had gotten into an argument with someone and may have killed the person. Thompson further stated that he dumped the body in Wellington, the man told investigators. 

The man denied helping Thompson clean the car. Another man told investigators Thompson came to him seeking help selling the Infiniti. 

In a follow-up interview, Thompson admitted to cleaning the car’s interior, but told investigators he was merely cleaning grease stains, the sheriff’s office said. He declined to answer any other questions after being told there was blood in the car. 

The sheriff’s DNA lab confirmed Thursday that blood found in the car and on Thompson’s clothing belonged to Parrales, the report said.

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