Man charged in killing of 71-year-old Johnston County woman who disappeared

WILSON, N.C. (WTVD) -- A registered sex offender has been charged in the killing of a 71-year-old woman who disappeared Nov. 13, officials say.

On Nov. 30, deputies responded to the 7100 block of NC Hwy 222 West in Kenly after being contacted to check up Kathy Thomas, 71. They couldn't find her and thus began a missing-persons investigation.

"I kept calling her phone and just getting an answering machine. That was when I knew something had to be wrong, said Judy Wiseman, Thomas' sister.

On Wednesday, police arrested and charged Kenneth Wayne Lamm, 50, with first-degree murder in Thomas' death.

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Lamm already has a record, with crimes ranging from sex offenses to theft.

Soon after the investigation into Thomas' disappearance began, it took a dark turn, leading investigators to a shallow grave in a Wilson neighborhood on Thursday.

Investigators executed a search warrant in the 700 block of Harper Street East, where they found the body, right behind Lamm's home.

Wiseman said she isn't sure how her sister and Lamm met, but she said that Thomas had been texting with Lamm during her visit to Wiseman's Tennessee home.

The body is being transported to the Medical Examiner's office for autopsy and further evidence collection.

"They shouldn't have let him out in the first place," Wiseman said. "I mean, you put someone in jail for raping or for killing or whatever and then after five, six years you let them out, they're going to do it again."

Lamm could face the death penalty in this case. Wiseman said she hopes he does.
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