Families remember victims days before Rocky Mount murder trial
Posted September 24, 2011
Updated September 29, 2011
Rocky Mount, N.C. — The families of nine murdered women and at least one who remains missing from Rocky Mount gathered Saturday to remember their loved ones two days before the trial of the man charged in one woman's death and linked to at least seven others begins in Bertie County.
Antwan Maurice Pittman, 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28, whose remains were found March 2009 in rural Edgecombe County.
Nicholson is one of nine women with a history of drugs and prostitution whose remains were found across three counties during a period of five years. Another woman, Joyce Renee Durham, went missing during the same time frame and the remains of a man who was a known cross-dresser from Rocky Mount were found in the same area in 2006.
The families released balloons for each of the victims Saturday to show that they won't be forgotten.
"We are praying together and God is working in the midst of those balloons to let us know that we are praying and we're holding on together," said Patsy Hargrove, the mother of Jarniece Hargrove, who was found dead in June 2009.
Patsy Hargrove called her daughter "Sunshine."
"Her smile made everybody laugh. Her smile – it's the sun," Patsy Hargove said. "We miss you, Jarniece, and we miss the other ones."
She said the families are all looking for justice and to honor the memories of their loved ones.
Deborah Lucky said her friend, Elizabeth Smallwood, 33, whose remains were found in rural Nash County in Feb. 2009, deserves justice.
"Because of their lifestyle, that doesn't give (someone) the right to take a person's life," Lucky said.
The trial, which begins Monday, was moved to Windsor in Bertie County because of publicity surrounding the case. The families said they plan to release balloons outside the courthouse the first day of trial.