Court documents: Cell phone, bleach led to Wilson man’s murder arrest

January 4, 2019
Man charged with murder of missing Kenly woman

A cell phone, bleach and a man’s own statements during questioning helped investigators charge him with a woman’s murder, according to court documents obtained by WRAL News on Thursday.

Kathy Thomas, 71, was last seen on Nov. 23, authorities said, and Johnston County deputies went to her home on N.C. Highway 222 on Nov. 30 to check on her but were unable to find her.

Thomas was known to frequent the Wilson area, authorities said, and the missing persons investigation soon focused on Kenneth Wayne Lamm of Wilson.

Lamm, 50, of 717 Harper St. E., was arrested last month and charged with first-degree murder in Thomas’ disappearance.

Investigators with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Wilson Police Department and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office later searched Lamm’s home and found what they believe to be Thomas’ body in a shallow grave.

“Nobody knew him. I don’t understand it. I really don’t,” Vera Deans, Thomas’ sister, said Thursday.

On Thursday, Thomas’ family sat in court hoping to see Lamm in person, but the case was continued, adding to their frustration.

“I couldn’t believe anyone would do that to her. I mean, she was 71 years old. She couldn’t hurt nobody,” Deans said.

Search warrants for Lamm’s mother’s home and his car shed new light on the case.

They say investigators connected the 50-year-old convicted sex offender to Thomas through phone records. They tracked her phone to the yard where her body was buried behind a house in Wilson.

“It’s just like he threw her away, and she didn’t deserve that,” Deans said.

The documents also say Lamm told investigators he had sex with Thomas at her Kenly home the day she disappeared. They found bleach in the trunk of his SUV and confiscated bleach-stained clothing and pairs of latex gloves.

Thomas’ granddaughter said the family is going through a tough time.

“There are good days and bad days. The holidays were rough,” Leanne Romascanu said. “I just hope justice is done.I hope she can be at peace, and my whole family too.”

The family is having a memorial service for Thomas at the Grove Baptist Church in Roxboro on Saturday.

Lamm is due back in court Jan. 31.

Update hourly