Sheriff: Possible serial killer responsible for deaths of missing women

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ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson announced Tuesday deputies have solved two cold cases of missing women allegedly killed by a suspected serial killer.

During the news conference, deputies said they have connected a suspected serial killer to two women who went missing in 2008 and 2009.

The suspect is connected to the deaths of Tamara Ann Liner, 49, of Burlington, and Jana Michelle Morton, 39, of Snow Camp.

Morton was last seen on February 13, 2009 leaving her home in Snow Camp. Her remains were discovered on Friday. Her mother Sherry Cloninger spoke to Fox 8 after the announcement and said she had almost given up hope.

"She's going to be home. Not the way we wanted, no, but the way we needed," Cloninger said.

According to Mortson's family, Robert Mitchell Foust told deputies where to find Morton's body in exchange for life in prison instead of the death penalty. Cloninger said she's fine with that.

"I thank him for telling where she was because we could have gone the rest of our lived without knowing where she was at," Cloninger said. "It's the saddest thing that she'd be out there alone."

Tamara Liner was reported missing on September 12, 2008. Her body was discovered by hunters near Dickey Mills Road in January 2009.

Sheriff Johnson would not confirm the suspect's name, but the criminal history he described -- a 2nd degree murder conviction for which the suspect was paroled and a rape conviction for which th suspect is currently incarcerated -- match the criminal history of the 52-year-old Foust.

During the news conference, Johnson said the unidentified suspect may be responsible for as many as four other murders that have taken place over the last 20 years. 

“The suspect will be identified upon the security of these indictments,” Johnson said.  “We have been in contact with both of the families of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers go with them today. Hopefully closure will be made.”

The discovery of Morton's body may be closure of one kind, but it may be an opening of another sort. Morton's 20-year-old daughter Caylee Harrell is working toward a degree in criminal justice at ECPI in Greensboro. She said she wants to focus on forensic psychology to understand killers.

"Maybe figure out why they are the way they are and why the do what they do, whether its genetic and they're born that way or if it's the way they're raised," Harrell said.

Her grandmother, Cloninger, hopes Caylee's aspiration can help both of them.

"Maybe she'll be able to tell me one day why someone, if they felt that way, wouldn't go get help."