Talana Quay Kreeger loved animals, was a skilled carpenter, and a beloved friend who was described as "caring" and "fearless", by those who knew her best. Surviving a traumatic childhood, and the early death of her mother, Talana had worked hard to create a stable life for herself. Her friendships were so important to her, that she was known to give her time freely, as she had been doing in her renovation of the bar at the Park View Grill, on the night she was killed.
Ronald Sheldon Thomas trailed a specter of tragedy, as he located his delivery site in Wilmington, and wheeled the sleeper cab back onto Shipyard Boulevard. While his fundamentalist roots in rural Alabama did not condone drinking, the search for a cold beer brought him to the brooding cypress trees and Spanish moss of Greenfield Lake, as he pulled the truck to the front of the Park View Grill on February 21, 1990. There, he drank beer and shot pool with the owner, her partner, and 32-year-old Talana Kreeger.
As the Park View was closing, the women decided to meet for a late meal, and Talana accepted Thomas’ offer of a ride to the restaurant. Court testimony indicates that their conversation turned to an argument “about homosexuality,” as Thomas steered towards a wooded area near the corner of Carolina Beach Road and Shipyard Boulevard. Talana fought off his sexual assault, but Thomas beat his victim severely, before manually eviscerating her, dragging her ravaged body to the edge of the woods, where she bled to death in the cold night.
Twelve hours later, at a truck stop on Interstate 95, Thomas spoke to a local minister by phone, telling him, "I did something terrible," as he confessed a murder. The proprietor, Wanda Whitley, searched throughout the night for her friend, unsuccessfully, but remembered that Thomas was making a delivery to a local high school. When she called the school the next morning, she was put on the phone with Thomas, who denied meeting her or Talana.
The true horror of Talana Kreeger's death would gradually unfold to her friends, who gathered at the Park View for the grim news that they were not prepared for. The quiet coastal community of Wilmington learned the horror of her murder through media coverage that was replete with gruesome details that left Talana Kreeger a "body found in the woods." While hinting at the importance of "homosexuality" as a factor in the murder, news reports did not confirm the sexual orientation of the victim, or its possible relevance to the crime, leaving the public to speculate about why this had occurred.