Case of the Month: Lisa Thomas

Lisa Thomas' school photograph, courtesy of her family

Lisa Thomas’ school photograph, courtesy of her family

Case of the Month: Lisa Thomas (August 19, 1959 – October 7, 1974) is one of the many cases that we need to look at again. We have new technology, new cold case investigative teams, and we have the Internet. It is through the Internet that I was made aware of this unsolved case. Mavis Ronayne contact me and sent me a link to an article about Lisa’s case.

I scrolled over the article because honestly, I didn’t have time to read it. But then I saw a photograph of an older woman standing in a teen’s bedroom. I read the caption. It was Barbara Thomas standing in Lisa’s room. She had kept it exactly the way it was on the last day of Lisa’s life. And that broke my heart.

Call me sentimental but I am a mother and I couldn’t look at that picture without feeling multiple emotions ranging from grief for a teen I do not know to sympathy for her mother and sheer anger that this case has not been solved yet. I felt her father’s horror when he found his girl’s body in that high grass. That image of seeing your beloved child beaten and murdered must have changed his life forever. The trauma that people go through when they find a murder victim should not be underestimated. So I made time to read the article and I did a search online.

In short, after school Lisa went home. Then she went to the Nanuett Mall (Clarkstown, Rockland County, NY) to buy a blouse. She had earned money with babysitting. I guess that she was probably looking forward to treating herself to a new top that she was going to pay for all by herself. A proud moment. If so, she may have been so excited that she was less alert to her surroundings, her route, and who might have watched her.

Lisa's grave courtesy of Mavis Ronayne

Lisa’s grave courtesy of Mavis Ronayne

I have many questions about this case:

  • I didn’t find an exact timeline of Lisa’s last day or her walking routine to, through, and away from the mall. An aerial map would be handy with some landmarks to set the scene.
  • Lisa was bludgeoned to death predominantly by blows to the top of her head. This could mean that the weapon used was one with a swing element. If you confront someone the first spot most people get hit is their face or stomach area. The very top of the head seems to show something that needed an overhead swing like a bat or a long object. This also means to me that the killer can be both male or female.
  • The fact that she was blindfolded can mean that the attacker didn’t want her to see where she was going. However, do not dismiss the option that he didn’t want to see her eyes when she understood she was going to be beaten to death. It might even have started as a joke to take her somewhere as a surprise. In that case, it was someone Lisa knew and trusted.
  • The puncture wounds in her nose: could they be made by someone who tried to stick something in her nostrils and then pushed in with force? Or are they are the result of the tremendous blows to her head?
  • I wonder whether Lisa’s clothes have been preserved and whether we can examine them with the M-Vac from Jared Badley. We might find fiber or touch DNA indicating the spot where she was murdered as I read police wasn’t sure about the exact location where she was killed. We could as the evidence apparently has been preserved.
  • Lisa was blindfolded with a red cloth she carried in her pocketbook (e.g. handbag or purse). Who knew that she had that in her pocketbook? Was she asked to take it out? Has it been preserved so the M-Vac can scan it for touch DNA? Unless someone asked her or rummaged through her purse, I feel it is more likely that we are dealing with a female killer. Girlfriends know a lot more about what their friends carry in their bags.

Further searching brought me to an article by Bob Baird. He mentioned this and I quote:

The Thomas killing wasn’t the only case that remained unsolved. There were 62 murders in Rockland in the 1970s, and in November 1979 they were the subject of a five-day series called “Getting Away with Murder,” a yearlong project by reporter Judy Grande and city editor Brian Gallagher that in 1980 was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.”

We need to get more people to look into these cases from that area. We owe the victims one more effort.

If you have any information about Lisa Thomas please contact the Clarkstown Police Department Detective Bureau at 1-845-639-5840 or call

  • Detective Fred Parent at 845-639-5833 or
  • Detective Christopher Maloney at 845-639-5865

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In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight an old cold case. These posts are never an in-depth analysis and of course, in some cases more information can be found online and in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the case back in the spotlights, to get people talking about it again, and if anything to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are cold does not mean that we can forget about them.

If you have any thoughts about this case I encourage you to post them on your own social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. Every time Lisa’s name gets mentioned online you enhance her digital footprint. We must make sure that she retains her web presence if we ever wish to find answers in her case. You can help by linking to or sharing this post.

Thank you for helping me help Lisa.

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Sources:

CBS New York

Facebook: Justice for Lisa Thomas

The Evening News

Lohud article 1

Lohud article 2

Lohud article 3