Police: Body recovered in Lorain identified as Clarence Thomas, missing since 2002

Posted at 12:56 PM, Jun 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-24 11:27:38-04

The body of a man believed to be missing since 2002 was recovered in the city and police believe they may know the murderer. 

Lorain police reported Clarence Thomas, of Lorain, was 31 when he went missing in 2002, though relatives didn't report him missing until Feb. 4, 2003. 

Officers were told Thomas was involved in drugs and had "troubles" in his life. The last person who had contact with Thomas was Michael S. York, of West Virginia. 

Police said Thomas never returned home and some relatives believed he may have gone to Queens in New York City and was involved in foul play. Other relatives said York mentioned Thomas was killed by someone over a drug debt. 

According to authorities, over the next few years investigators spoke to Thomas' relatives and tried to gather more leads into where he was located. York left Ohio before being interviewed, since he had felony warrants through Lorain County Common Pleas Court. 

In the past few months, officials learned York was in prison in West Virginia, serving multiple life sentences for murders he committed in the state.

Investigators believed York killed Thomas in Lorain in 2002 and disposed his remains somewhere in the city. 

Police said on June 21, a detective and officer went to West Virginia and took York back to Lorain County to be brought before the Grand Jury. 

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Lorain County Coroner's Office went to the area where Thomas was believed to be buried. The Lorain Police Detective Bureau and BCI recovered a body at the scene believed to be Thomas. According to the Chronicle Telegram, the body was recovered in Pittsfield Township.

Lorain police and the Lorain County Prosecutor's Office will work together to decide what charges, related to the murder of Thomas, will be filed against York.

Details regarding Thomas' cause of death are pending with the Lorain County Coroner's Office.