The case of Stephanie Evans, the Ohio woman who was murdered and found dead in the Scioto River, heads to Investigation Discovery tonight for their true-crime docu-series Swamp Murders. Ross County Authorities say Stephanie Jo Evans was dumped in the Scioto River in Chillicothe, Ohio, 15 years ago. The killer, Thomas James McCray, left her baby strapped in a car seat near a creek bed all night. The Swamp Murders episode chronicling the brutal murder is titled, “Rocky Waters.”
Swamp Murders: Rocky Waters
When a couple of fishermen hear a baby crying, they are shocked to see him all alone that cold morning. Their shock turns to horror after a bloody trail leads them to the river, where they make a terrible discovery.
Chillicothe, Ohio: Dead Woman Found In River, Baby Alive
In April 2001, a dead woman’s body was found partially submerged in the Scioto River, in Chillicothe, Ohio. Rocks were found on top of the body. An autopsy determined that the white female was 21-year-old Stephanie Evans, aka Stephanie Jo Evans. She had been bludgeoned to death, resulting from a tremendous blow to the head. The victim was also raped, according to HighBeam.
The body was found after two people contacted police, stating that they had found a baby. The baby was strapped to its car seat and left out in the cold all night until the fishermen discovered it the next day. The baby was alive but suffering from exposure. Stephanie Evans’ body was found several feet away from the car seat. A trail of blood had led them to it.
Manhunt: On the Trail of a Killer
Immediately investigators set out to find the killer of the Richmond Dale woman. Eventually, they were directed to TJ McCray, a friend of Stephanie Evans. TJ McCray, whose real name was Thomas James McCray, was a man with a criminal record dating back to his juvenile years. A manhunt in progress called for anyone to look out for a white male with at least two distinguishing tattoos: one of a crucifix and a sunburst.
There were several sightings and tips coming in across the country. However, when Stephanie Evans’ case was aired a year later on John Walsh’s America’s Most Wanted, tips came rolling in, stating that the man they were looking for was known to them as Jason Lee Williams. According to the tipsters, Jason Lee Williams, aka Thomas James McCray, had dated a mutual friend who was still in contact with him.
When detectives located the girlfriend, she admitted that she was in contact with Thomas James McCray and that he was in prison in Canada for robbery. Ohio investigators sent over fingerprints on file for Thomas McCray to the Canadian authorities, which came back a match. McCray was later extradited back to Ohio, where he pleaded guilty to the killing, according to In Archive.
Swamp Murders will detail how DNA evidence and a fingerprint led to Thomas McCray. A motive for the murder will also be fleshed out in the episode tonight.
Here are a few more interesting details
- Stephanie Evans’ baby, whose name maybe Justin, was about 2 years of age when he was found.
- Thomas McCray’s family was worried sick when he went on the run, they were glad to find out that he was alive in the Canadian prison.
- The America’s Most Wanted episode aired in 2002
Touring Ohio gives the following information about the Scioto River.
“The Scioto River starts out as a small ditch running through a farm field in Auglaize County and becomes a small creek about 80 miles northwest of Kenton in Hardin County. A little over 230 miles later, the Scioto River finally empties into the Ohio River at Portsmouth. The Scioto River is one of the longest rivers in Ohio.”
For the murder, Thomas James McCray is serving a 20-year sentence in an Ohio correctional facility. Tune into Swamp Murders tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery.
[Featured Image by Randall Vermillion/Shutterstock]