Family says slain Fayetteville woman, murder suspect grew up together

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The man accused in an October rape and killing of a Fayetteville woman went before a judge Wednesday afternoon.

William Thomas, 23 is charged with first-degree murder, rape, and kidnapping of Tyesha Williams. The 25-year-old's body was found dumped in a ditch in October.

Thomas was already locked up on unrelated felony charges. By law, Fayetteville Police took his DNA and were able to match him to Tyesha's case.

"It's troubling anytime you hear something like this; a murder and a sexual assault. They knew each other," said Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West.

Investigators said Thomas lived in the same neighborhood as Williams. Her family said the two grew up together and that he was the last person they suspected of harming her.

"Too overwhelming to know that they knew her for 15 years just about for him to do that to her. Everyone who knew her loved her. He should've never did it," Tyesha's mother, Michelle Williams, said.

According to arrest warrants, Thomas kidnapped Tyesha, raped her, and beat her to death before taking off with her iPhone and a ring. Her mother said it was more than just a piece of jewelry.

"It was a special place for me and my daughter. ... and for them to think that it was really that important to take it off of her finger, it disgusted me. I'm at a loss for words," Michelle Williams said.

If convicted, Thomas could face the death penalty. District Attorney West told ABC11 that his office is looking into it.

"Anytime you have a sexual assault along with a murder, that's something that will be considered," the DA said.
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