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Before Her Own Death, Mother Wants Answers on Daughter's Murder

It's been more than 40 years since Barbara Thomas has gotten to hear her daughter Lisa's laugh.
Barbara Thomas stands at her daughter Lisa's grave. Lisa was found murdered on October 8th, 1974.
Barbara Thomas stands at her daughter Lisa's grave. Lisa was found murdered on October 8th, 1974. Justice for Lisa Thomas Facebook Page

It was October 7th, 1974 when Barbara Thomas last got to spend an afternoon with her daughter Lisa.

“She was always upbeat and she sparkled when she came into a room," Barbara remembers about her daughter. "She was a friend to all and always was willing to help out."

Thomas Family

Lisa would later say goodbye to her mother and walk to the Nanuet Mall. She was intending to buy a new blouse with her freshly-earned babysitting money, a seemingly routine outing for a 15-year-old.

When she didn’t return home in time for dinner, her parents felt something had to be wrong.

They contacted her friends, hoping to hear their daughter had just forgotten to call. No one had spoken to Lisa or seen her. The police were contacted, but it was Lisa's father who reportedly made the gruesome discovery the following morning in the woods behind the mall. Lisa was dead. According to police, the teen had been bludgeoned.

"Most homicides are committed by people who know the victim or are familiar with the victim," Clarkstown Detective Christopher Maloney told The Journal News on the 40th anniversary of Lisa's murder. "The fact that she was murdered so close to her house, you can assume it was somebody else who was familiar with neighborhood."

Detectives say that, although no persons of interest or suspects have been named, they have been able to narrow the field of possible suspects over the years through interviews and further investigation. DNA evidence has reportedly been sent for testing to help further the case, but officials have not commented on the results.

"I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a child like that. It must be worse to not know what exactly happened," Maloney said. "Their daughter can never be brought back, but it would be nice to give them some closure."

Closure is exactly what Lisa's mother is seeking. Although what happened to Lisa that autumn night has been kept a secret by someone for more than 40 years now, Barbara says she will keep fighting for justice until her last breath.

"I hope that I find out what happened to my daughter before I die. Who did it and why? Lisa’s dad went to an early grave never having the answers, I don’t want that to happen to me. I will fight to see that she gets the justice that she deserved."

If you have any information that can help bring justice for Lisa and her family, please call the Clarkstown Police Department at (845) 639-5840. You can also visit the 'Justice for Lisa Thomas' Facebook page for more information or to continue to follow Lisa's case.