Retired Texas Man Held in Cold Case Murder of Sex Worker 30 Years Ago

cold case murder
Douglas Thomas.McLennan County Jail

Douglas Thomas, 67, is being held in lieu of $2 million bail in the McLennan County Jail in Texas.

A 67-year-old Texas man is being held in lieu of $2 million bail in connection with the cold case murder of a sex worker in 1992, authorities said.

Douglas Thomas was arrested Wednesday and is being held at the McLennan County Jail on one count of murder, according to online records.

Thomas was linked through DNA to the strangulation and sexual assault of Shenda Denise Hayes, whose body was found near a rest area along Interstate 30 in Titus County, according to an arrest warrant filed Wednesday by an investigator in the cold case unit of the Texas Rangers, KWTX-TV reported.

Investigators determined she had been strangled “with a device made of wire and cord in a manner to control the victim,” according to the affidavit. Her body was partially clothed and there was evidence of sexual assault, the affidavit said, according to the station.

The Texas cold case investigators were contacted by California authorities, who told them DNA from a case in their jurisdiction matched the online genetic profiles of residents in McLennan county, the affidavit said. 

Texas investigators ultimately matched the DNA evidence to Thomas, after obtaining genetic samples from the retired man, according to the affidavit, the station reported.

Thomas' DNA also matched evidence from the California case, in which a sex worker was found murdered near a desolate highway in 1993, the affidavit said.

“In other words, DNA from a single person was located at both crime scenes,” the affidavit said. 

Texas prosecutors have not decided whether to try Thomas in Titus County, where the murder occurred, or in McLennan County, where Thomas was arrested, the station reported.

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