Nearly 14 years after authorities found Zilphia Lowery’s skeletal remains, a towel, bed sheet and clothing buried off a logging road near Lake James in 1994, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office closed the case after an old tip led detectives out of state to find her killer.
On Thursday, about nine years since Lowery’s murderer was found guilty, the McDowell County case will be in the spotlight on A&E’s hit show “Cold Case Files.”
The one-hour episode will take viewers through the investigation as detectives, victims’ loved ones, and others involved in the case relive the events of the crime, reveal new twists and startling clues during the investigation that left so many people with unanswered questions for more than a decade.
Zilphia Lowery was a free spirited 23-year-old woman at the time of her killing and had been reported missing in July 1993. After months of searching, the State Bureau of Investigation discovered Lowery’s remains in a wooded area near Lake James on Feb. 6, 1994.
A medical examiner determined she died from a skull fracture after sustaining blunt-force injuries to the back of her head and probably the right side of her head, according to an autopsy report.
Investigators continued exhausting lead after lead for five years until one detective stumbled upon a tip that they had since the early days of the investigation, according to a case summary from the 2008 trial.
One detective assigned to the case would periodically review it “looking for anything that might jump out,” the case summary states.
In 1998 two names, Robbin Whited and Robert, written on a small piece of paper, jumped out at the detective.