Local News

Missing Kenly woman's body found in shallow grave in convicted rapist's yard

Posted December 13, 2018 8:42 a.m. EST
Updated December 13, 2018 9:19 p.m. EST

— Investigators on Thursday found the body of a missing Kenly woman in a shallow grave near the home where investigators say the suspect, a convicted rapist and registered sex offender, lived.

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 Wednesday 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 searched Lamm's home on Thursday and found what they believe to be Thomas' body in a shallow grave.

Family and friends had been searching for Thomas for two weeks.

"Once a person has not been found like that, it's not good news," said Teresa Hall, a family friend.

The body will be sent for an autopsy to confirm the identity, determine a cause of death and collect more evidence, authorities said.

Lamm has three rape convictions on his criminal record, which dates to the early 1980s and was in prison from 1993 to 2012 on the last of those convictions, according to state Department of Public Safety records. Because of those convictions, he was registered with the state as a sex offender.

He also has been convicted of robbery, theft and breaking and entering, state records show.

Friends believe the two met at a food bank where Thomas was volunteering, and they started texting.

"She didn't know he was a sex offender because, if she knew he was a sex offender, she would have never been communicating with him," Hall said.