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Bail hearing in 42-year-old murder case bumped back

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A 66-year-old former Auburn woman remains in Placer County Jail on a murder charge dating back to a 1970 death of her daughter, while a possible bail hearing has been bumped back to next Tuesday. Patricia Lee Thomas was arrested Jan. 18 at her Grass Valley home. The Placer County District Attorney’s Office alleges Thomas – who has since remarried but whose legal name was then Patricia Howell – drowned her 4-year-old daughter, Cindy Howell, in the family’s bathtub. Thomas has pleaded innocent to the single murder charge and remains in jail on a no-bail hold. Her attorney, Thomas Leupp of Auburn, has asked for a bail hearing on the grounds that she is in ill health and not a flight risk. That hearing has been delayed twice, the second time this past Tuesday, when it was again rescheduled. Court documents related to search warrants for Thomas’ home in Grass Valley and her former home on Placer Street in Auburn detailed how another daughter told authorities this past year that she had seen her mother in the act of drowning Cindy on May 25, 1970. Cold case investigators stated in documents backing a request for a search warrant that Thomas was recorded in a conversation stating that she left Cindy to drown in the tub after the girl was knocked unconscious by hitting her head on a faucet. – Gus Thomson