A Ray County jury on Friday convicted a 26-year-old man in the 2009 murder of a woman whose body was found in a rural field.
James P. Reardon of Independence was convicted of first degree murder, armed criminal action and knowingly burning a vehicle in connection with the abduction and slaying of Carol A. Thomas, 23.
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Reardon and two other people were accused of abducting Thomas in Excelsior Springs. Jennifer L. Saling of Holt, Mo., and Erik R. Zimmerman of Excelsior Springs have pleaded guilty in the case.
Reardon is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 3.
Ray County Prosecutor Danielle Rogers said evidence pointed to Reardon as the person who shot Thomas to death.
Witnesses said they had seen Thomas being beaten and then put into the trunk of a red Pontiac on Nov. 4, 2009, on a street in Excelsior Springs.
The group drove to various locations, including a residence outside Missouri City. At some point, Saling left the vehicle. Reardon and Zimmerman continued into Ray County with Thomas still in the trunk.
Thomas kicked through portions of the back seat, which caused Reardon to swerve the vehicle off a gravel road, drive through two gates and stop in a Ray County field, Rogers said.
The men took Thomas out of the trunk. Reardon walked her a short distance into a field, where Thomas was shot twice in the head and once in the neck, Rogers said. The men pushed her body into a ravine.
They drove the vehicle to another location, where Zimmerman poured gasoline on it and Reardon set it on fire, Rogers said. Then they called for a ride.
Authorities found Thomas’ body in a wooded area near West 230th Street and Knutter Road.
Saling pleaded guilty to second degree murder July 7, 2010, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Zimmerman pleaded guilty April 8 to second degree murder, armed criminal action and knowingly burning. He will be sentenced next Friday.