Sorsaia said he had hoped Thomas' family could have closure, but he felt that not only was the case against Little too weak, but it could not be proven conclusively that Lewis was not involved in the murder.
"If we had strong core evidence -- good DNA evidence -- we could use someone like him to corroborate that evidence and ethically get by," he said. "But when your main evidence is someone of his quality, with his behavior, it becomes more problematic."
Little was serving time in the Martinsburg Correctional Center for conspiracy and attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory when the charge was first filed. He was released last Wednesday, according to LaFon. The case has been dismissed without prejudice, meaning it can be filed again if enough evidence surfaces, but LaFon said he thinks that is unlikely.
Thomas' sister, Rita Ratcliff, said she had not had time to collect her thoughts on the dismissal since her niece, Thomas' daughter, sent her a message telling her Little would not be tried in court.
"The only thing I can say about it is that Jesus is still in control," Ratcliff said. "I'm still praying, and I believe that there will be justice one day."
Thomas left her father's Cedar Grove residence in July 2001 and walked across the street to have a drink at the End Zone Bar. Hours later, she was seen leaving Shrewsbury's Twin Hills restaurant with a man.
Her body was discovered in the creek bed nearly a year later, and authorities initially believed, because of severe decomposition, that it was the body of a 5-foot-6-inch white male. Medical examiners estimated the body had been there for about two months. State Police determined she had died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.