A Killer Among Us - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

A Killer Among Us

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He has an appetite for brutality, torture and murder. He killed two women and has avoided capture for more than decade.

Shelby County detectives have brushed off  the dust in their investigation of a serial killer, something that could catch the attention of the writers of FOX's "The Following."

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The crime dates back to 2001, just after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Although the trail has gone cold, detectives believe new evidence could point them in the direction of the killer.

Even as Mid-South police spent countless hours and uncalculated amount of money to bring him to justice, serial killers are a different breed of criminal. Families of victims would say they are the worst.

Two women were found naked and buried in shallow graves.

"Some guys on a 4-wheeler smelled something odd and they saw a brush pile," Lt. Helms said. "Went over to it and that is where the fist body was found."

The brush pile was the badly decomposed body of 46-year-old Nancy Alvis. Just one day later, another gruesome discovery: the body of Patricia "Cook" Thornton.

"I know the investigators at that time thought this was a serial killer," Lt. Helms said.

Both victims frequented a Millington dive bar known as Harpos that had a history of drugs and prostitution.
"Nancy was a sweet person, had her own set of problems," said Helen Tuddle, sister. "We do know with alcohol and drugs."

"That doesn't mean that anybody has the right to take her life or do any harm to her," Dorothy, sister.

Harm is an understatement.

Ms. Alvis was stabbed in the back. Her body was too decomposed to identify other injuries. Ms. Thorton was beaten, sodomized, and had bite marks on her body.

Both women were strangled.

The full autopsy could inspire writers for the Fox TV show "The Following," which airs Mondays at 8 p.m. CT on FOX13.

"It's still hard to believe," Dorothy said. "The brutality of if. Nancy didn't deserve it."

The cold case file shows the efforts made, evidence collected and hopes dashed of making an arrest.

The original detectives compared evidence from similar murders in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and East Tennessee.

"They went cross country," Lt. Helms said. "They spoke with other agencies. They knew that this was a sadistic sick individual."

Lt. Helms believes the case can be solved.

"First thing is we have to find living witnesses that last saw these ladies alive," he said. "We will take all the evidence and resubmit it to the (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) to see if we can possibly get new DNA since technologies have changed."

There is renewed hope to find the killer of Helen and Dorothy's younger sister.

"I remember her as a mother to her three children who are all grown now," Dorothy said. "We want this person to be stopped.  If he or she is still out there and not locked up, chances are they are doing the same sort of thing."

Apparently the serial killer has.

Lt. Helms has been checking unsolved murders of women in Memphis and found cases with similarities.

"We need to get him because I do think if he is here," he said. "He might be tied to some more cases here and he is across state he is doing it somewhere else."

"Someone who could torture and do the heinous things that we're done to both Nancy and Patricia, they are not going to stop unless we stop them," Dorothy said.

Lt. Helms believes the suspect was probably watching "The Following," not for entertainment but to learn the tools and techniques law enforcement use to make an arrest.

If you can help Shelby County detectives you are urged to call 901-528-CASH. Your anonymous tip could lead result in a cash reward. 

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