Preacher murdered, police identify persons of interest - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Preacher murdered, police identify persons of interest

Rev. Blanchard Thomas Rev. Blanchard Thomas

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA  (WTVM) – Columbus Police say they have identified two persons of interest in the murder of Reverend Blanchard Thomas.

Thomas, 44, was found dead inside his Ford Expedition on Broadway under the Oglethorpe Bridge in Downtown Columbus Tuesday afternoon.

He was slumped over in the driver's seat with a gunshot wound to the head.

Thomas was the pastor at Mount Missouri Baptist Church in Pittsview, Alabama which has around 200 members. He also shared pulpits with his best friend, Reverend J. W. Jones, pastor of Peaceful Baptist Church in Columbus.

"It was just devastating. He was a humble preacher. He was a great preacher. I loved to hear him sing and preach. It's a great loss to me as a dear friend. He was just like a brother. It just really hurt my heart to see that a minister, a pastor could die that way," Reverend Jones told WTVM in an interview Wednesday.

"He had been a preacher for over 20 years. He was a very loving person and a lot of people in Columbus and Phenix City knew all about him. We've been getting a lot of calls asking is that Blanchard Thomas the Blanchard Thomas we know and all I can say is yes, he's gone," said Thomas' sister, Joan Gibson.

Columbus Police aren't releasing a motive in the preacher's murder but his family says he was shot in retaliation. They think whoever killed him had the wrong person and the reverend was just trying to be a Good Samaritan.

"All I know right now is that he had given a young lady a ride home from Phenix City to Columbus. We know they had wrongly mistaken him for the person that supposedly had done this young lady some bodily harm. This is just unnecessary. They didn't have to do what they did to him," Gibson said.

"He had a gift from God and he used his gift. He was just a loving man and he really preached Jesus Christ and I really believe he's with the Lord right now," Reverend Jones added.

Thomas' body was sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.

Investigators say they have two persons of interest in the case but so far, no arrest warrants have been issued. They are actively investigating the case and pursuing several leads.

Thomas was found by two passersby but Major Gene Hillhouse, who oversees the Columbus Police Department's Robbery/Homicide Division, says they are just witnesses and had nothing to do with the murder.

Anyone who might have information on this case is asked to call (706) 653-3400.

Copyright 2011 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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