Iron Thunderhorse: Wanted by the Law

Self-proclaimed Native American shaman escapes from Houston halfway house.

By John Nova Lomax July 2, 2014

March DPS Sex Offender Registry photo of Iron Thunderhorse

A blind and diabetic 64-year-old self-proclaimed Native American shaman by the name of Iron Thunderhorse escaped from his Kashmere Gardens halfway house last month and police need your help to track him down.

According to a recent Houston Chronicle report, Thunderhorse was last seen June 19 at his halfway house on Shotwell Street. Police say he hacked off his ankle monitor and disappeared. Thunderhorse was recently paroled after being sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1978 for aggravated sexual assault and another rape he committed while on parole in 1991.

Thunderhorse was born William Lewis Coppola in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of a Neapolitan immigrant. However, according to his extensive Wikipedia page, Iron Thunderhorse (Biwabiko Paddaquahas in the Quinnipiac language), is "the CEO and Legal Sovereign of ACQTC, Inc., and Hereditary Grand Sachem and Powwamanitomp (Shaman) of the Quinnipiac Thunder Clan."

The bio states that Coppola was renamed Thunderhorse by a council of four Quinnipiac elders, including one named Slow Turtle, and that his mother was the grand-niece of Quinnipiac leader Flying Squirrel Woman. His father was an immigrant from Naples and his stepfather a Canadian of Objibwa heritage.

"By age 12, Thunderhorse reports he had been exposed to six languages (English, Italian, Latin, French-Canadian, Anishinabemowin, and Quiripi) by his relatives," the bio states. "Thunderhorse traces his passion for honoring and preserving the language and traditions of his Native American ancestor to his childhood time with Sakaskantawe."

To that end, he has written extensively on his self-proclaimed heritage and spirituality and has filed suit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to protect his right to wear his hair long, as befits a Native American shaman. Seven years ago his wife Ruth Mahweeyeuh Thunderhorse penned his authorized biography Following the Footsteps of a Stone Giant: The Life and Times of Iron Thunderhorse. 

Iron Thunderhorse self-portrait.

However, others cast doubt on Thunderhorse's Quinnipiac heritage and spiritual writings. One website labels him a profiteering quack in the vein of Native/New Age-y frauds like Lynn Andrews, Carlos Castaneda, and Mary Summer Rain.

But Coppola is no mere charlatan. He is also a monster.

Back in 1991, Thunderhorse was paroled and moved in with a Houston-based Amoco executive he had married in prison by proxy. According to a Chronicle report at the time, Thunderhorse began terrorizing the woman within 15 minutes of winning his freedom."Within three weeks, she went from being an independent, self-sufficient executive to. . . she looked like she was under mind control: unkempt, glazed eyes," said her divorce attorney, the late Karen Zellars.

Thunderhorse forced the woman to quit her job and monitored all her phone calls. When Thunderhorse traveled to California, the woman changed the locks on the doors and filed for divorce. When Thunderhorse called her, she told him to not bother coming back. Instead, according to the Chronicle, Thunderhorse confronted her in the driveway, put a gun to her head, dragged her in the house, raped her, and bound her with a telephone cord, telling her that if she did not agree to come willingly with him to California he would take her there rolled up in a blanket. The next day as Thunderhorse was packing up their truck the woman grabbed a shotgun and blasted Thunderhorse in the shoulder.

Taken to Ben Taub, Thunderhorse was arrested there for violating parole and placed under guard. He was not long in making his escape and continued terrorizing his estranged wife over the phone. He was finally reapprehended and spent the next 22 years behind bars. (The former Mrs. Thunderhorse got the marriage annulled shortly thereafter.) 

And now Thunderhorse is on the lam again.  

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