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Years later, families of Colonial Park murder victims forge bonds

Six young people were murdered, and two more are missing and presumed dead, in a series of crimes in southeastern Virginia in the 1980s that authorities think may be the work of a serial killer. They have become known as the Colonial Parkway cases.

The investigation had grown cold for years, but now authorities are looking to modern day technology and a fresh perspective in hopes they can catch the killer or killers. As I reported on the Colonial Parkway killings, I was struck by how the families of the victims have connected and bonded, and how the Internet has been a part of that process.

Bill Thomas, brother of victim Cathy Thomas, recalled a September evening when his sister was on his mind. Mostly he tried to think of the good times, he told me, but the anniversary of her death was approaching. When the work day ended, Thomas sat in his Los Angeles office and started searching the internet.

Up popped articles about crime scene photos that had mistakenly been released and used in security company training sessions. And up popped a Facebook page the family of Richard Keith Call, who went missing on the parkway along with friend Cassandra Hailey, had created to honor Keith’s memory and help catch the killer.

Thomas and his family had grieved privately for years, but in September he reached out.

"I wrote a quick condolence note to the Calls," Thomas recalled. "I said how sorry I was for their loss, and that if there was ever anything I could do to let me know."

Keith’s family quickly responded and the two families talked by e-mail and phone. Within months, Thomas, the Calls and relatives of other victims met for a dinner at a Mexican restaurant the night before before meeting with the FBI in Virginia.

"There were some tears," Thomas said. "We talked about the case. We talked about our family members. But we also shared funny stories."

Thomas and the other families are hopeful authorities will get they break they need, either through forensic tests or a tip, to solve the case.

-- Maria Glod

By Maria Glod  |  April 1, 2010; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  Maria Glod , Unsolved , Virginia  
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Next: Wizards' Arenas pays $5,000 into D.C. crime victims fund

Comments

Many thanks to reporter Maria Glod and the Washington Post for their interest and support in the Colonial Parkway Murders story. We are hopeful that we may have a better result this time around, with the help of the FBI, Virginia State Police and local law enforcement. Then the Post will have some more good news to cover.

Bill Thomas
Brother of Cathleen Thomas
Los Angeles, CA

Posted by: billthom56 | April 2, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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