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Family: Missing Rocky Mount woman was friends with women found dead

Posted July 3, 2009
Updated July 10, 2009

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— Juray Tucker last saw her daughter Yolanda Lancaster five months ago at her home on Grand Avenue in Rocky Mount.

“We’ve been looking for her ever since,” Tucker said.

Lancaster, 36, was reported missing on March 30, according to police records. Though she has dropped out of sight for days at a time, Lancaster would always call to check on her two children, Tucker said.

Yolanda Lancaster reported missing on March 30 Family of missing Rocky Mount woman speaks

Lancaster is among several African-American women who were reported missing from Rocky Mount since 2005.

A Tarboro newspaper also reported another missing woman on May 29. Jarniece Lotonya Hargrove, sometimes known as "Sunshine," 31, was last seen May 2 in the northern part of Rocky Mount, walking on U.S. Highway 301, Sheriff Knight told the Daily Southerner.

Other African-American women in the area have been found dead.

The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office, Rocky Mount police and the State Bureau of Investigation recently formed a task force to connect the dots between the unsolved murders of five African-American women over the past four years in Rocky Mount, Sheriff James Knight told WRAL News this week.

Tucker and Reggie Smith, Lancaster’s boyfriend, said she was friends with Melody Wiggins, 29, and Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, who were both found dead.

Wiggins’ body was found near Nobles Mill Pond Road, an area south of U.S. Highway 64, on May 30, 2005.

Thorpe was reported missing from Rocky Mount on May 8, 2007, police said. On Aug. 17, 2007, a man told Edgecombe deputies he found a body behind a house on Seven Bridges Road, between Battleboro and Whitakers. Pathologists at Pitt Memorial Hospital identified the victim as Thorpe.

Lancaster was also friends with Hargrove, Smith said.

Tucker said the investigation into these deaths is upsetting. Each time the body of a missing young woman is bound, she said it tears her heart out.

“I’m hoping that whoever is doing this, I hope somebody finds them and puts them away,” Tucker said.

Tucker is caring for Lancaster's two children, a 10-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy.

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