VPD Cracks Seven-Year Cold Case

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

"It wasn't just a handgun but an assault rifle.," said Bruce Reilly, the tenant of apartment 2019, where a man was killed seven years ago. "And those are made for killing."

Neighbors say rumors about the murder of college student Nicholas Rawls, 25, have been circulating for years.

At 1:09 a.m. on September 18, 2003, Rawls was shot multiple times in his apartment on Melrose Drive, according to Commander Brian Childress, of the Valdosta Police Department.

Officers say it may have been drug-related.

Now, a crack in the case and even interviewing a witness in Germany lead to the arrest of Michael Thomas, 24.

Officers says Thomas, who's already serving time on unrelated charges, will be tried for Rawl's murder.

"Primarily, it was a lack of cooperation from witnesses or persons of interest that hindered the case that certainly caused the initial detective working the case, that slowed him down almost to a complete stop," said Childress.

But investigators never stopped working the crime.

They re-organized and created a Cold Case Unit in December 2009, in which they're working on unraveling five different outstanding investigations.

Some neighbors say they didn't know Rawl's murder remained unsolved until now.

"I'm kinda surprised about it but it could have been unsolved too," said Reilly, who moved there over a year ago. "So I'm really happy that it did get solved."

"That's a long time, a very long time!" said Eboni Johnson, who moved to the complex one-year ago. "To not know, you know, for his loved ones, you know, for them to have closure."

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Thomas is already serving a five-year sentence at Macon State Prison on charges of cruelty to children.

Police believe several accomplices are also responsible for Rawl's murder, and they're under investigation


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