Spain and Thornton - who was out of prison on probation at the time of the murder - were acquaintances, according to investigators. They did not give a motive for the killing.
In addition to the murder charge, Thornton, of Liberty Street, is also wanted for larceny and a probation violation.
Durham police say Thornton is known to frequent the areas of Liberty Street, Holloway Street, East Club Boulevard and the Oxford Manor housing community.
Anyone who knows where he is should call Cpl. N.M. Cloninger at (919) 560-4440, ext. 245 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.