Editor: Shannon Cottongame
September 29, 2021
A missing eight-year-old girl was found and hospitalized over the weekend after a crash that killed her abductor and the driver of a second vehicle.
The investigation began when the Bosque County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) responded to a residence in Walnut Springs at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, September 24, after receiving a report of two missing children.
According to Bosque County Sheriff Trace Hendricks, deputies made contact with the mother who stated that her children, seven-year-old Cody Lowery and eight-year-old Jessi Lowery, were missing and suspected to be with a family member, Randall Thurman, a registered sex offender.
Bosque County authorities were notified that Cody had been located at a convenience store on Interstate 35 in Hill County and was in the custody of Hill County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies and the Itasca Police Department.
Hendricks said that the young boy had run to the convenience store seeking help and had been bound with clear packing tape, which was wrapped around his throat and arms. “Cody advised responding deputies that ‘Randall’ had removed him from the car and wrapped him in tape before fleeing with Jessi still in his possession,” a BCSO press release stated.
The child was transported by ambulance to a medical facility for treatment, and BCSO deputies responded to the location, where extensive search efforts were initiated by all involved agencies.
Reports indicated that a man from the Itasca area observed a car sitting between a group of trees on his property and recognized it to be the car listed in the Amber Alert. “He immediately contacted Hill County SO, at which time multiple HCSO and BCSO units began to saturate the area in an effort to locate the vehicle,” Hendricks said.
HCSO deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle, but the suspect fled and a pursuit ensued northbound on FM 171 toward Cleburne.
Just inside Johnson County, pursuing deputies observed the suspect’s vehicle cross over the center lane of the roadway and continue to travel at high speeds toward an oncoming vehicle.
“Based on the actions of the driver, deputies believe the maneuver to have been intentional,” Hendricks said.
At the intersection of FM 191 and Johnson County Road 302, the suspect’s vehicle collided with the oncoming car, killing Thurman and the driver of the vehicle he struck. The name of the crash victim was being withheld Sunday pending the completed notification of family.
According to BCSO reports, Jessi Lowery was found in the front passenger seat of the vehicle operated by Thurman and was conscious and communicating with officers on the scene.
She was transported by CareFlite helicopter to an area hospital for emergency treatment. Authorities had not provided an update on her condition as of Sunday.
Multiple agencies were involved in the search and investigation or provided assistance. They included Bosque, Hill, McLennan, Johnson and Somervell county sheriff’s offices; Itasca, Waco and Fort Worth police departments; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety troopers; and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Hendricks said that multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the state also assisted and investigated leads in their areas.