Fuquay-Varina police hope paint chips from truck can link man to death of woman found in ditch in 2011

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Thursday, March 14, 2019
New lead in Fuquay-Varina cold case
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New lead in Fuquay-Varina cold case.

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (WTVD) -- Police in Fuquay-Varina may have a new lead in the death investigation of 41-year-old Sandra Denise Thomas, the woman found in a ditch in March 2011.

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Investigators said they have collected new evidence as part of a renewed focus on solving this cold case.

"Our goal is to solve this case by following the truth, the facts and the evidence. By doing so we will continue our work to bring justice for the family of Sandra Denise Thomas. We may not solve the case today but we will never give up. Sandra deserves justice," Fuquay-Varina Police Department wrote in a statement on Facebook.

Thomas was found partially clothed, faced down in a muddy ditch on Lawrence Street on March 29, 2011.

According to officers, Thomas was not shot, stabbed or strangled.

"Sandra was a very outgoing person. She was a lovable young lady, she was. And she was a part of our congregation," said Lois Briley, who attended church with Thomas.

Evidence suggested that she was involved in some type of altercation where she was trying to get in or out of a moving vehicle. However, evidence does not confirm if she was hit or run over.

In March 2019 police asked to search the home of an Apex man and his 1988 Chevrolet pickup truck.

Police hope to match paint chips found on Thomas' clothing to the man's truck. Records also state they plan to obtain any DNA, hair, blood, or debris from the interior or exterior of the truck.

Family members told ABC11 that Thomas lived near the neighborhood where she was found.

According to the medical examiner's report, she was "last known to be alive when she was leaving a gathering at a nearby residence several hours prior to her body being discovered."

The report also stated that cocaine was found in Thomas' system.

"The complexity of these injuries and the scene findings suggests that some other person or vehicle may have been involved with this death," the examiner said in the report.

Thomas was last seen alive around 2 a.m. on March 29. She was walking alone on North West Street toward West Jones Street.

"No, I can't believe it's been that long," Briley said, as the eighth anniversary of Thomas's death approaches at the end of the month. "I've always hoped that they would find out who did that to her. Because she didn't deserve to die that way.

"It makes me feel good that they're still looking for the person who did it to her," Briley added.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (919) 552-3191. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.