Years later, police make arrest in murder of Chesterfield mother

Published: Jun. 24, 2013 at 10:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 4, 2013 at 11:03 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield Police charged Brandon Thomas with the murder of Chesterfield mother Bobbie Jo Bell- a crime that happened in September 2010.

It's a day that feels like yesterday for many people who lived in the Chimney Corner Trailer Park with Bobbie Jo.

"I mean, it floored us all!" said Kay Luck. "'Cause we all thought a lot of her, you know, they were a small little community in the trailer park, and all of us thought a whole lot of her. But when I found out - very devastating, very devastating. To see three beautiful little children lose their mom in that type of fashion."

Police say Bobbie Jo Bell was shot in the head and killed. Police found her body after neighbors reported her very young children running around in the street.

As the investigation began, Brandon Thomas was on the list of suspects. He was her boyfriend and father of two of her children.

"Thomas became a suspect early on, was interviewed in the days following the murder," said Lt. Randy Horowitz.

For months, there just wasn't enough evidence to charge him. Plus, Brandon Thomas had an alibi.

When the crime happened, Bell was taking Thomas to court for child support- a case set for just days after her murder.

It was dismissed because Bobbie Jo Bell was dead. Police say for 33 months, they continued interviews, checking DNA and forensic evidence - never forgetting about getting justice for Bobbie Jo.

In December, they got an unusual break.

"Through an extensive search, we have recovered the murder weapon," said Horowitz. "We forensically tied it back to the murder, and then, along with that, we have continued to do forensic evaluation."

Those months of work started paying off - the pieces were falling into place.

"Through our investigation, we've been able to contradict most of the things he told us about- his whereabouts and what he was doing - during that time period," said Horowitz.

Chesterfield police have been in touch with Bobbie Jo's family every week since her death. They say the family is relieved to finally have a chance for justice - in court.

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