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Madelyn Cox Thomas' remains identified

5:34 PM, Aug 9, 2013   |    comments
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By Graeme Moore

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA/CNN) - In South Carolina, new DNA evidence led police to the identity of a murdered woman's body found more than two decades ago.

Police say the next move is to find the killer.

It was August 1990. The then-Spartanburg County Coroner showed the media what was left of the bones found along Davis Chapel Road.

The dismemberment of the woman's body made it clear the killer didn't want the woman identified, and it stayed that way, the case cold, for the next two decades, until the current coroner, Rusty Clevenger, got involved.

"In 2009, I ordered a full forensic review on all unidentified cases," said Clevenger.

The bones were sent off in 2011 to the University of North Texas, and scientists there extracted more complete DNA.

Finally, that DNA was entered into something called NAMUS, a national database for missing people this past April. By May there was a hit.

"Law enforcement was being told an association had been noted by the database," said Clevenger.

Turns out, the victim's mother had given her own DNA seven years ago to be put in that national database.

With that, Clevenger had a name; Madelyn Cox Thomas, a 32-year-old mother of two who vanished in the summer of 1990, last seen near a truck stop in Gaston County, North Carolina.

Investigators say Thomas was into drugs and prostitution and may have traveled to Spartanburg.

Whatever happened, the search for a killer is back on.

"We don't know who what when or where yet," said Sheriff Chuck Wright.

But investigators promise to get it solved, even if it takes another 23 years.

WSPA/CNN

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