Accused Killer Charged With 2nd Cold Case Murder in Slaying of California Mother of 4, Prosecutors Say

Sherri Herrera.Handout

Douglas Thomas has been charged with the 1993 California murder of Sherri Herrera. He is already jailed on charges he killed another woman in 1992.

A retired Texas truck driver has been charged with the 1993 murder of a 30-year-old mother of four whose body was found on an onramp to a California freeway, authorities said.

Douglas Thomas, 67, is already jailed on a murder charge for the 1992 killing of a Texas woman whose body found in a rest area near an interstate, Texas authorities said.

Thomas had been a cross-country truck driver during the time of both murders, prosecutors said.

Thomas was charged Friday with the murder and rape of Sherri Herrera, whose remains were discovered on an eastbound entry to Interstate 10 in the desert of Riverside County. 

Both cases sat dormant for decades, but DNA technology innovations showed genetic evidence from Thomas at both crime scenes, according to a statement issued by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

"I don't know if I really believed it, because it's like, man, this has been so long," said Herrera's son, Adrian, after learning of the new charges against Thomas.

Adrian Herrera was 6 when his mother's body was found March 30, 1993.

"I remember coming home from school, and my stepmom told us the news what had happened," he said. "Me and my sister were there. Obviously, we started bawling our eyes out," he told told KFSN-TV.

Thomas was arrested May 25 for the killing of Texas resident Shenda Denise Hayes, whose strangled body was found near Interstate 30 in Titus County.

He is currently being held at the McClennan County Jail in lieu of $2 million on one count of murder. 

California prosecutors said Thomas will first be tried in Texas, and then extradited to stand trial in Riverside County. 

The California charges include a special circumstance of murder committed in the act of rape, which could result in prosecutors seeking the death penalty, according to state law.

Prosecutors said both women had been sex workers.

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