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Crime News Missing Persons

Body Identified As Woman Who Reported Being Chased In Woods Nearly Four Years Ago

On Jan. 10, 2019, a "disoriented and confused" Lauren Thompson called 911, claiming someone was chasing her after she drove her car into a muddy ditch. A work crew found her skeletal remains in July 2022. 

By Jax Miller
How To Stay Safe From Kidnapping

Authorities have confirmed that human remains found over the summer belong to a mother who disappeared nearly four years ago.

On July 27, a work crew in eastern Texas came upon skeletal remains in a wooded area in Panola County, according to ABC Texas affiliate KLTV. Little could be gleaned from the discovery, including a cause of death, though investigators believed the remains had been there for some time.

On Tuesday, Panola County Sheriff Cutter Clinton announced the remains were positively identified as 32-year-old Lauren Thompson, who vanished in 2019 from the Rock Hill area — about 130 miles southeast of Dallas and less than 100 miles of Shreveport, Louisiana.

She was a mother of three, friends told KLTV reporters.

“Our office will be diligent in pursuing all relevant investigative leads,” Sheriff Clinton stated.

On Jan. 10, 2019, Thompson placed a call to 911 at around 2:24 p.m., former Panola County Sheriff Kevin Lake told Dateline NBC. Lake said Thompson sounded “disoriented and confused” when reporting she was leaving her vehicle.

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The call lasted about 21 or 22 minutes, presumably only ending because her phone battery died, according to NBC News.

“She thought someone was chasing her,” said Lake. “We could hear background noise, and it was clear she was running.”

Soon after Thompson placed the call, responders used cell phone tower pings to try and locate her, soon finding her car stuck in a muddy ditch near Farm-to-Market Road 1794, just west of Rock Hill.

A social media photo of Lauren Thompson

With Thompson still on the line with 911 operators, responders also made contact with a male passenger who was with Thompson when she ran her vehicle off the road.

“One person she was with told us they had been in the area, reportedly fishing,” Lake told Dateline. “He said he then told her he was going to walk to his house to get a vehicle to get them out of the mud, but then she took off running in the woods.”

Multiple agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, Parks & Wildlife officers, the state’s Forest Service, and Panola County officials, conducted a massive search of the area, but there was no sign of Thompson.

Aerial searches would also yield no results on the missing mother.

“We did locate a shoe that we weren’t sure was hers, but later we were able to determine it was hers,” former Sheriff Lake told Dateline. “Since then, we have searched approximately 2,000 acres of heavily-wooded terrain and open fields with ground searches [and] have covered approximately 9,000 acres with drones and helicopters.”

Ruth McGaughey, a friend who attended the Faith Assembly of God church in Carthage with Thompson, told the ABC affiliate shortly after the disappearance that Thompson was “sweet, caring, and hardworking.”

“We want her home,” McGaughey said in 2019. “Her babies need her. Her parents need her. Her family needs her.”

Since July’s discovery of Thompson’s body, Panola County Sheriff Clinton stated Texas Rangers and forensic anthropologists from the University of North Texas’s Center for Human Identification in Fort Worth helped positively identify Thompson following “multiple dental comparisons.”

Authorities maintain there was nothing to suggest anything criminal took place upon finding Thompson’s remains, though they continue to explore all avenues.

Thompson’s mother, Torie Colvin, took to Facebook following the announcement, claiming the cause of death is still pending.

“Our family would like to reiterate our deepest gratitude for the love, intercessory prayer, and support demonstrated by many in bringing Lauren home,” Colvin posted. “Many families continue searching for answers regarding missing family and loved ones. Please join us in prayer through his holiday season and beyond that, the love of Christ cover[s] all families searching for answers.”

The family previously set up the “Bring Lauren Thompson Home” Facebook page for information on Thompson’s whereabouts.

The Panola County Sheriff’s Office said they would update the public as more information becomes available.

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