Death of Dothan woman could be a murder case

Family photo submitted via Henry County Sheriff's Office.
Family photo submitted via Henry County Sheriff's Office.(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jul. 20, 2018 at 8:24 PM CDT
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What first appeared to be a traffic wreck that killed a Dothan woman could turn into a murder case. Investigators plan to present evidence related to the death of 37-year old Jeanine Gravette to a Henry County Grand Jury next month.

“On June 24, the Ford Fusion she was driving ran off County Road 7 near Newville and went into some trees,” said Henry County Sheriff’s Investigator Keith Cauthen.

Badly hurt, emergency crews rushed Gravette to a Dothan hospital where she was on life support until she died several days later.

However, an accident report obtained by WTVY shows a state trooper concluded that Gravette’s injuries were not caused by the crash. The more investigators examined evidence, the more they became suspicious.

Her body was found several yards away from the car, near the side of the roadway. While the report doesn’t suggest murder, the case was turned over to county investigators who say they have worked up to 70 hours a week seeking answers.

However, Gravette’s mother thinks she already has the answer, believing her daughter’s longtime boyfriend, LaFelix Thomas, killed her daughter. “She was in a domestic violence situation (with Thomas) for about 10 years,” Tina Rodgers said.

Thomas’ criminal history shows numerous arrests for illegal drugs, theft, burglary and, in 2005, domestic violence. While that case didn’t involve Gravette, Rodgers claims Thomas abused her daughter so badly she was forced to find refuge in a shelter for battered women.

Court records show Rodgers, on behalf of Gravette, sought a protection order against Thomas while her daughter was hospitalized.

Investigator Cauthen stops short of calling Gravette’s death murder but said she suffered extensive injuries that he doesn’t believe the wreck caused.

While he declined to discuss whether she had been sexually molested Rodgers, in the protection order, claimed Thomas is under investigation for raping and beating her daughter who suffered three skull fractures.

Thomas was unreachable for comment because he is now in prison on a parole violation not related to Gravette’s death.

Reports also indicate there could be a second man involved who fled the scene.