MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The man accused of killing his wife and tossing her nude body into the Loosahatchie River says he is not guilty.
According to members of her family, 31-year-old Karen Denise Thomas suffered years of abuse at the hands of her husband, Terrence Thomas, inside the couple's home in Raleigh. Despite pleas begging her to leave her husband, the mother of two decided to stay. Now she is dead and her husband is in jail, accused of strangling her.
Terrence Thomas, wearing a blue jail uniform, didn't say much as he made his first court appearance on Monday, October 22 to face charges of First Degree Murder and False Reporting.
According to police, Thomas choked his wife to death.
Attorney Gerald Skahan, Thomas' court-appointed lawyer, says after speaking with him briefly the accused killer "appears as well as he can appear under these circumstances."
Friends and family of the couple say their marriage had been under a lot of stress for many years, and that Thomas beat his wife on numerous occasions.
Cornelia Shaw, Karen's sister, says she begged her sister to leave Terrence. "I told her many times, probably like two months ago, y'alls time has ended - it's no longer a marriage."
Shawnta Ellison, a domestic violence counselor, says there are a number of reasons women decide to stay in abusive relationships. "For security reasons, children, financial reasons, religious beliefs, love," she says, "especially if women have children they think of the safety of the children."
The Thomases have an 11-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. Police say both were in the home when their mother was murdered.
Terrence Thomas is being held without bond at the Shelby County Jail. He's scheduled to be back in court November 7.