By Erica Morse and Maria Villafana
Victims News Online Staff Report
Updated 6:45 p.m., Feb. 5, 2013
(VNO) — Texas authorities have arrested a 24-year-old man for the disappearance and murder of his former girlfriend who has now been missing for more than a year.
Jeremy Thornburg of Sweetwater, TX, was arrested in Abilene Monday afternoon by the Graham Police and Texas Rangers. He is being held on $750,000 bond at the Young County jail.
With a two-year-old son at home – and one on the way – the case of missing Texas mother Candice Shields became more and more urgent every day.
DPS officials told the media in a press conference today that Thornburg has remained a “person of interest” in the case, and is now charged with her disappearance and murder. An official with the Texas Department of Safety told the press that new information had shown Thornburg traveled to Candice’s home on the evening of December 10th, and that the young mother left the home with him in the early morning hours of the 11th.
According to officials in December 2011, the last known sighting of her was at the family’s house by her grandfather around 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, around the same time police say she last used her cell phone from inside the home.
Candice’s family and friends described her as “glued to her cell phone, and insisted she was an “avid Faceooker”; because of this, they believed from the very start she did not leave the home of her own volition.
Two- to three-months’ pregnant at the time of her disappearance, Candice was the mother to young Christopher, and planning for another on the way. According to her mother, Michelle Quillin, her daughter was scheduled to begin a new job the following day at Whataburger, which led her family to believe she had no intentions of leaving the home that evening. In a December 2011 interview, Quillin told The Graham Leader that no neighbors reported anything suspicious in the area that evening, and even the family’s two dogs were not rattled or awoken by anything out of the ordinary. The back door to the home was unlocked, however there was no evidence of foul play.
A Facebook page was set up early on to garner support and organize searches for the missing mother from the small town of Graham, approximately 100 miles northeast of Abilene. A missing persons’ organization from North Carolina did vis
it the region and pass out fliers, and organized an online flyer distribution effort. However, Candice’s friends and volunteers have been voicing their frustrations over the last year about what seemed to be a “lack of information and progress” regarding her disappearance.
As recently as last week, the Graham Police Department told Victims News Online that there were “no new leads in the case”, and “no new information to report”. Monday’s arrest, therefore, brings new hope to those who want answers for the missing woman and her baby.
Authorities have not yet indicated if Candice has been located, and more information is expected regarding Thornburg’s arrest in the coming days. At the time of her disappearance, Candice was three- to four-months’ pregnant, and weighed 130 pounds. She was 5’5″ tall, with brown hair and green eyes.
Anyone with information related to Candice’s disappearance is asked to call the Graham Police Department at (940) 549-6441.