Convicted rapist charged with murder

Johnston County woman missing since November

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UPDATE: Johnston County Sheriff Office officials say they have located what they believe is the body of Kathy Thomas in a shallow grave at the Harper Street location. The body is being transported to the medical examiner for an autopsy.

"Sheriff Steve)Bizzell would like to thank the Wilson Police Department, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this investigation," Capt. Jeff Caldwell said.

A convicted rapist has been charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance of 71-year-old Johnston County resident Kathy Thomas.

This morning, agencies from Wilson and Johnston counties are on Harper Street in Wilson, where officials believe she is buried.

On Wednesday, cadaver dogs from Wayne County assisted with the search of the property, Johnston County Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Caldwell told The Wilson Times.

Caldwell referred to the area behind the 717 Harper St. home as the crime scene.

The suspect, Kenneth Wayne Lamm, 50, was arrested Wednesday afternoon. Caldwell said the Harper Street address was the home of Lamm’s girlfriend, and he stayed there often.

Thomas lived on the 7100 block of N.C. 222 West outside of Kenly, a rural area of Johnston County near the Wilson County line. Authorities have said she was last known to be at her residence on or around Nov. 23.

Family members or friends had not had contact with Thomas since that date, officials previously said. The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office determined that her daily routine ended since the weekend of Nov. 23. She was known to frequent the “Wilson city area.”

Anyone with information related to the case should contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5010.


On Wednesday, authorities roped off the Harper Street area with crime scene tape. Wilson Police Department and the Wilson County Sheriff's Office assisted.

The crime scene was held all night, Caldwell said.

Lamm, a registered sex offender, has an extensive criminal history spanning three decades including two convictions of second-degree rape, two convictions of second-degree sex offense, felony crime against nature and various property crimes, most of which were out of Wake County, according to the N.C. Department of Correction.

Other convictions include felony credit card theft, common law robbery, felony breaking and entering and larcenies, according to state records.

Lamm served less than half of a 50-year-sentence when he was convicted in 1994 on sexual offense and rape charges. He was released in April 2012.

He was most recently convicted in July 2015 on a misdemeanor larceny charge in Wilson County, according to records. He was given a two-year suspended sentence and placed on probation, according to records.