Focus on Sex Offender in Salisbury Girl's Death - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Kye Parsons

Focus on Sex Offender in Salisbury Girl's Death

Posted: Updated: Dec. 29, 2009 9:53 AM EST
Sarah Haley Foxwell Sarah Haley Foxwell
Thomas James Leggs Jr. is charged with first-degree burglary and Sarah's kidnapping. It remains to be seen if he will face additional charges. Thomas James Leggs Jr. is charged with first-degree burglary and Sarah's kidnapping. It remains to be seen if he will face additional charges.

SALISBURY, Md.- Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis enlisted the help of just about everyone along Maryland's Eastern shore, from hunters to homeowners, to find a missing 11-year-old Salisbury girl, and thousands of people took time from their Christmas Day plans to search, with the hope she was alive.

On Friday, at around 4 p.m. three days after Sarah H. Foxwell was last seen at her home, police found her body near the Delaware line. 

"This is not the way we wanted to find our young lady on Christmas, but at the very least we've given closure to the family," Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis R. Ruark said at a news conference.

The focus of the investigation is on 30-year-old Thomas J. Leggs Jr., of Bennett Road in Salisbury, who was charged Wednesday in Sarah's kidnapping.

"There's no indication of involvement of any other individuals at this point," Ruark said.

No new charges were filed as of late Friday. An autopsy was planned at the medical examiner's office, but the sheriff's office did not know when.

Leggs is a former boyfriend of the girl's aunt, who is her legal guardian. A public defender representing him has not returned phone calls and a woman who answered the door at Leggs' parents' house declined to speak to a reporter.

Lewis, said the body was found in the area of Melson Road, west of Hampton Court, about half a mile south of the Maryland-Delaware line, where authorities had focused their search.

Volunteers met up at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury at 7 a.m. Friday and fanned out to search for her. Lewis also asked property owners in the county to check their fields and yards for the girl and to display a red ribbon to let law enforcement know the area had been searched. He also asked hunters to be on the lookout.

Lewis said Sarah was last seen Tuesday night at her home on Old Ocean City Road in Salisbury. A relative discovered she was missing early Wednesday while checking on Sarah and her 6-year-old sister. A charging document says Leggs was the last person seen with Sarah.

A "juvenile witness" awoke during the night Tuesday and saw Sarah leave the bedroom with "Tommy," and said he was wearing blue jeans, an orange jacket and white sneakers, the charging document says.

Sarah lived with her aunt, Amy Fothergill, who told police the child's toothbrush was missing from the home, according to the statement of probable cause.

Deputies said they found a green toothbrush and a lollipop in a truck Leggs admitted driving. Leggs said he had been wearing jeans and white sneakers the previous night- the same clothes he was wearing when police questioned him.

The sheriff said Thursday that Leggs has been uncooperative and "of no assistance to our investigators."

Sarah was a sixth-grade student at Wicomico Middle School, bright and lighthearted, Tracey Powell, a paternal aunt, said at a Christmas Eve candlelight vigil for her niece on Thursday night.

"She would just run the hallways laughing and giggling, and just jump into your arms," Powell said.

Leggs is listed on both the Maryland and Delaware sex offender registries. The Maryland listing notes that he is a child sex offender, but does not give details about his conviction.

Lewis said Leggs has been convicted of a sex offense in Wicomico County and was charged Oct. 29 with fourth-degree burglary.

In 2001, Leggs was convicted in Delaware of rape involving a victim who was 16 or 17, according to the Delaware registry. The registry describes his risk level as "high" and notes he is unemployed.

Leggs, who has been convicted of assault several times, also is awaiting trial on charges of burglary and destruction of property in Ocean City.

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