Dismembered body missing Gaston Co. woman Madelyn Cox Thomas - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Dismembered body identified as Gaston Co. woman missing 23 years

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Madelyn Cox Thomas (Courtesy: Spartanburg Co. Coroner's Office) Madelyn Cox Thomas (Courtesy: Spartanburg Co. Coroner's Office)

Investigators in South Carolina have identified a dismembered body that was found nearly 23 years ago as a missing Gaston County woman.

According to Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger, investigators were able to use DNA to identify the body as 32-year-old Madelyn Cox Thomas. Investigators say when they found Thomas' body in August 1990, her head, feet and hands had been cut off.

Thomas was reported missing from Gaston County in July 1990.

Clevenger told WBTV that a woman walking her dog near Interstate 85 found Thomas' remains scattered in the grass in late August. The skeletal remains were missing the skull, feet and one hand, Clevenger told WBTV, none were ever found.

Clevenger ordered a complete review of the four unidentified remains cases in his office back in 2011.

He says that forensic specialists were able to get additional, and more complete, DNA from the Thomas' bones. The DNA was then sent to a lab at the University of North Texas.

There a DNA profile was put together and uploaded into a national database earlier this year.

Clevenger says Thomas' mother had given her DNA to federal investigators in 2007 for the database.  Investigators teamed up with Gaston County Police to make a positive identification.

Thomas had two children who lived briefly with other family members after he disappearance before being put into foster care.

Gaston County Police has teamed up with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office and Clevenger to start a murder investigation.

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