OAKBORO, UNION COUNTY — The body of a missing 37-year-old Monroe woman was found last weekend in Jackson County in western North Carolina, Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey announced Thursday.
The death of Alison Thomas has been ruled a homicide, investigators said.
Thomas was last seen on Feb. 13 on Flint Ridge Road in northeastern Union County.
Someone from out of the area stopped along a dirt road near the Tuckaseegee area in the Nantahala National Forest on Sunday and discovered the body, said officials with the U.S. Forestry Service.
Resident Charlie Owens who grew up near Wolf Mountain road said he has seen similar cases.
“It’s not that good of a place,” Owens said. “There are several (bodies) brought in and (hidden) like that. Just dump them over the bank and everything like that.”
The area is remote and the Union County sheriff said Thomas had no known ties to the area.
“It’s a family-type neighborhood,” said resident Kyle Larcum. “Not many people are around here. To hear something about this is very surprising and disturbing.”
The sheriff’s offices and the State Bureau of Investigation are trying to find who is responsible for Thomas’ death.
“We know whoever did this, they are dangerous, and they need to be apprehended as soon as possible,” said Walter Thomas, Alison Thomas’ brother.
The mother of two children had been missing for so long, family members prepared for the worst.
“In a way, I think it gave us some peace and closure and the other part of it is we just want to know who did this and why,” Thomas told Channel 9.
Thomas and loved ones hope law enforcement makes an arrest soon.
“We’re extremely concerned about the safety for everyone right now until we find out who did this because Ali was a loving person,” the brother said. “She had a heart that would do anything for her girls. For anybody that she loved just had an overwhelming huge heart, too big.”
Sheriff Cathey said the killing was an isolated incident and there is no known cause for anyone in Jackson or Union counties.
Searching for Thomas
Before the latest development in the case, Thomas’ family handed out missing person’s flyers Thursday with a picture of her smiling face.
The fliers covered windshields at a shopping center in Oakboro.
“You don’t really hear about things like that around here that often,” one concerned shopper told Channel 9 last month.
All day long, a search party of family and friends combed through thick brush in a wooded area between Oakboro and Marshville near where Thomas was last seen.
Investigators with the Union County Sheriff’s Office say Thomas was living at a home on Flint Ridge Road and was last seen the day before Valentine’s Day.
Deputies have conducted an extensive search of that area without any signs of Thomas. At this point, they haven’t been able to rule anything out.
Family shared their fears for Thomas’ safety and suspicions of foul play. The woman is without her car, purse and glasses raising the alarm.
“We know that something is awry, that something has gone on, and we do not believe in any way, shape, or form that she walked away from anything,” Sunshine Thomas, Alison’s sister, told Channel 9 earlier this week.
The sheriff’s office is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for any information that helps locate Alison. They are also encouraging people to submit tips through their app or by phone at (704)283-5600.
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