Sheriff: Women’s murders were unrelated in serial killings

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Jana Michelle Morton (left) and Tamara Ann Liner. (Photos courtesy: Alamance County Sheriff's Office)

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson on Friday said the murders of two women by a suspected serial killer were not related.

Robert Mitchell Foust, 52, was charged Wednesday with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Tamara Ann Liner, 49, of Burlington, and Jana Michelle Morton, 39, of Snow Camp.

In a news release, Johnson said the two killings “occurred separately and are not related.”

The body of Morton, who had been missing since February 2009, was discovered May 25.  According to the victim’s family, Foust told deputies where to find the body in exchange for life in prison as opposed to the death penalty.

“The charges were filed after many months of extensive investigation,” Johnson said.

Liner’s body was discovered in January 2009 near Dickey Mills Road after she had been missing for about four months.

During a news conference earlier this week, Johnson said Foust may be responsible for as many as four other murders that have taken place over the past 20 years. 

Robert Mitchell Foust (Photo courtesy: Alamance County Sheriff’s Office)

Johnson described Foust as a possible serial killer whose criminal history included a prior second-degree murder conviction — for which he was later paroled — and a rape conviction — for which he had been serving a 66-year sentence at the N.C. Department of Corrections in Scotland County. 

In 1981, police in Amarillo, Tex. charged Foust with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.  Six years later, he was convicted of second-degree murder under accusations that he beat a drug dealer to death with a crowbar while high on cocaine. 

Despite recommendations from law enforcement, Foust was released after serving 13 years of a 40-year sentence.

Johnson said he feels lenient legislators are to blame for Foust’s release. 

“We catch them and we feel like sometimes it’s a revolving door. We put them in. They let them out,” Johnson said.  “Had his sentence been fulfilled, there would be two women living today.”

Foust was transferred from the Scotland County Correctional Institution to the Alamance County Detention Center on Thursday afternoon. He currently remains in Alamance County pending his return to the correctional institution, Johnson said. 

Johnson said that, despite the new charges, the “overall” investigation remains open.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.