Almost two years have passed since Kay Thomasson was murdered in her Sandy Springs home. The police still have no leads on identifying or arresting a suspect, despite a $100,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in the case.
However, cops said they’re making progress in the case.
“I’ll say that we have gone through well over 100 tips. We have ruled out some persons of interest through DNA evidence, which takes forever,” said Detective J.T. Williams, the lead investigator on the case. “It’s frustrating. I can’t give you details, but we … are very excited about some new technology that has become available. As this technology progresses, we’re one of the first to ask for something (to crack the case), and we’re really excited about something we think is forthcoming.”
Sgt. Salvador Ortega, the police spokesman, said Sandy Springs is using a private lab for the new technology.
“If this helps out with this new technology, this case is going to be one of those trailblazing cases,” he said.
According to the police, officers were notified June 27, 2018 of a possible homicide at a home on Old Woodbine Road. The victim was identified as Thomasson, 71, whose cause of death was a stab wound to the back of the neck and blunt-force trauma, according to the autopsy report.
Her black 2012 Kia Sorrento, which was missing from her home when her body was discovered by family members, was found at the Azalea Place Apartments in Chamblee three days later, said Sgt. Sam Worsham, then the police spokesman.
He said the suspect, who is believed to have stolen the victim’s car after she was murdered, was described as a black male with medium build, wearing dark clothing. In 2018, shortly after the murder took place, the police also released a video of the suspect walking into or out of Thomasson’s home.
The police’s original reward offered was $10,000, with CrimeStoppers of Metro Atlanta chipping in an additional $2,000 a few days later. About two weeks after the murder was reported, it was increased to $100,000, the largest amount offered by that department in its 14-year history.
Also, the Thomasson case is one of only two unsolved murders since the department was founded in 2006. The other one happened that year, when an infant was found dead in a bag. It’s a case that haunts Williams.
“To be honest with you, usually between 1:30 and 2 o’clock every morning I wake up,” he said. “I stare at the ceiling and wonder, ‘When is this (break) going to come in? What have we done wrong? Have we overlooked something?’ It’s human nature. …
“In 22½ years of doing this, it’s one of the worst cases I’ve seen. … Everybody’s handling this case; it’s hit home. You feel the weight of that when the family calls you and asks for updates. … You want justice for their family.”
The department certainly isn’t limiting the scope of its investigation. Ortega said dozens of officers and detectives have been assigned to the case, and Williams said the police have executed dozens of search warrants, interviewed hundreds of individuals and logged thousands of overtime hours.
“This case, the word ‘cold’ is nonexistent right now because it’s not,” Williams said. I’m really anticipating some great stuff.”
Since Thomasson’s death, the police have sent DNA evidence to both the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)’s crime lab and to the private DNA Labs International in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Lately it’s sent more evidence to the private lab since it’s faster due to a case backlog at the GBI lab.
Alton Conway, Thomasson’s brother, said he’s confident the police will catch the killer for four reasons: Williams’ leadership, the police department’s commitment to it, the city’s backing and the reward offered.
Conway lives nearby in Brookhaven and would visit her at least once every two weeks before she died.
“She was one of the most quietly giving people I’ve known,” he said. “… One time there was a family that came into the Atlanta airport, and they had everything they had stolen, and this (story) was on the 6 o’clock news,” he said. “By the 11 o’clock news, some mysterious lady had taken care of their problems.
“The next day, I said, ‘Kay, that was a nice thing you did for that family.’ She said, ‘How did you know?’ I said, ‘I just knew.’ I knew that was the kind of thing she would do.”
Conway said his sister also volunteered for Hosea Helps (formerly Hosea Williams Feed the Hungry) and had other talents.
“Kay quietly would do stuff and wouldn’t tell anybody,” he said. “You’d just know. She’d do anything for anybody. She was the champion of the downtrodden, the homeless, the stray animals, anything or anyone that was struggling. That was her current and instant cause. She had rental houses, and she could change out a commode and do things most guys who own rental houses wouldn’t attempt to do and had been doing it for years.”
Williams said with the police also making progress on its 2006 unsolved murder case, both cases could be cracked this year.
“That is on the radar, and there’s some new DNA we’re getting a grant for through the city,” he said of a genealogical test for the baby case. “I strongly feel by Christmas, both of those cases will be solved.”
To view the video of the suspect, visit https://bit.ly/2N3lER1. The police is asking for anyone who may recognize the suspect in the video to call Williams at 770-551-6937 or contact CrimeStoppers by calling or texting 404-577-8477 or visiting atlantapolicefoundation.org/programs/crime-stoppers/. Tips can be left anonymously.