The Colonial Parkway Murders Part 1


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Episode 5 The Colonial Parkway Murders Part 1
When 27 year-old Cathy Thomas, and her girlfriend 21 year old Rebecca Ann Dowski were found brutally murdered in October, 1986 inside Cathy's White 1980 Honda Civic along Virginia's idyllic Colonial Parkway, police were at a loss over the brutality and senselessness of the murders. Both women had been bound, strangled, and their throats were cut. Their killer, or killers, had moved their vehicle and pushed it down on embankment towards the water after failing to burn the vehicle using kerosene. Cathy, a stockbroker who had a stellar background as a US Naval academy grad, and Rebecca, a senior at the college of William and Mary, did not seem to have enemies. But a closer look into their background revealed possible motives for the murders. Cathy had essentially been forced out of the Navy because of rules at that time that prohibited gay or Lesbian soldiers from serving in the military. Rebecca also had an ex-boyfriend who was upset with her for leaving him and starting a relationship with Cathy. While there were possible motives for the murders, investigators also needed to consider whether the two women were killed by a random stranger, and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wouldn't be until more couples were murdered or went missing in the same area, that authorities began to suspect that a serial killer was roaming the Colonial Parkway. But were all of the cases actually connected, and was the same person or persons responsible for all of the cases?
In part 1 of our 2 part coverage of the Colonial Parkway Murders, we look very closely at the murders of Cathy Thomas and Rebecca Ann Dowski, aided by Cathy's brother, Bill Thomas, a staunch advocate for not just his sister's case, but all of the familied and cases in the Colonial Parkway series. He has worked tirelessly for over 3 decades trying to get answers in this case, one that remains unsolved to this day, and he shares the bumpy road he's had to travel to get justice; one that often has left him at odds with the investigators working the case, in particular the FBI. We are also joined by DNA expert Suzanna Ryan who shares her insights and expertise regarding the clues and physical evidence left behind by the killer, or killers.
If you have information about the Colonial Parkway Murders, please contact the Norfolk FBI at 757-455-0100 or send an e-mail to
To visit the most comprehensive online resource on the net for the case, visit
To contact DNA expert Suzanna Ryan, or learn more about her work, visit her website:
Check out a preview at the beginning of this episode for Mind Over Murder, co-hosted by Bill Thomas.
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Continue the conversation about this case with fellow Citizen Detectives over at Websleuths:
The Citizen Detective team includes:
Co-Hosts- Mike Morford, Naama Kates, and Dr. Lee Mellor
Writing and Research- Alex Ralph
Technical Producer- Andrew Gray
Production Assistant- Ashley Monroe

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