Evil Lives Here is investigating the murder of Terry Rouse from Ware County, Georgia, who was killed by Craig Lester Thrift in 1991.
Thrift escaped justice for over 20 years, but his past actions finally came back to haunt him when a new county sheriff decided to take a fresh look at the case.
On the morning of May 11, 1991, Terry Rouse failed to turn up for work. His car was later discovered at the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp; its ignition was running, but the battery was dead, and it was out of gas. There was no other sign of Rouse, and he has not been seen since, either dead or alive.
Rouse had attended a house party the night before with Craig Thrift, who was his cousin, friend, and work colleague. Also at the party was Thrift’s wife Rhonda Thrift, who the cops would later learn was having an affair with Rouse. The cops also learned from the Thrift’s babysitter that Craig and Rhonda had argued when they returned home from the party.
The cops failed to arrest Craig Thrift after initial investigation
At the time, Thrift was a major suspect in Rouse’s disappearance; however, a lack of evidence meant that the cops were unable to pin anything on him and the case quickly grew cold.
The case was reopened in 2009 when the newly elected Ware County sheriff, Randy Royal, decided the cops should take another look at the evidence. A case was built up against Thrift based on tracking down various individuals who all said the killer had confessed to them.
Thrift had told multiple acquaintances that he had beaten and shot Rouse death before dumping the body into the Okefenokee Swamp. He had chillingly described his victim as “gator bait.”
In April 2014, a Ware County grand jury found Thrift guilty of felony murder, and he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.
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