Local News

Missing Rocky Mount woman ID'd as fifth body

Posted July 7, 2009
Updated July 9, 2009

— Skeletal remains found late last month in a wooded area in Edgecombe County are those of a woman who was reported missing two months ago, authorities said Tuesday.

The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office said dental records confirmed the remains – found June 29 near the intersection of Seven Bridges and Old Battleboro roads – to be those of Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31.

Jarniece Latonya Hargrove Fifth Edgecombe body identified

Hargrove, who was reported missing May 2, was last seen walking along U.S. Highway 301 in northern Rocky Mount.

Authorities declined to say how she had died, but Hargrove's mother, Patsy Hargrove, said Tuesday afternoon that Sheriff James Knight told her Monday that her daughter likely had been strangled.

Hargrove said Knight also told her that authorities are looking to see if the case is in any way connected to four other unsolved homicides over the past four years.

"Wherever this serial killer is, if there is one, I would like them to be captured, to be punished for what they did to my daughter," Hargrove said. "They took our love, our joy, from us."

Knight has publicly confirmed that his office, the Rocky Mount Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation have formed a task force to examine the cases, but he has stopped short of saying the cases are linked or that they believe they might be the working of a serial killer.

Each case is similar in that the victims were black women from Rocky Mount and were all found in the same vicinity as Hargrove, Knight has said.

Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29, was found May 30, 2005, near Nobles Mill Pond Road, an area south of U.S. Highway 64. She died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to an autopsy report.

Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, who was reported missing May 8, 2007, was found Aug. 17, 2007, behind a house on Seven Bridges Road.

The body of 50-year-old Ernestine Battle was found in the same area March 13, 2008, more than a month after she was reported missing on Feb. 2.

On March 7, 2009, the remains of Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28, were found on Marriott Road. Knight has said she had been strangled.

Authorities also found on Feb. 13 skeletal remains of an unidentified black woman along Melton Drive in Rocky Mount. Authorities believe the woman was between 27 to 49 years old.

View Edgecombe County bodies in a larger map


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  • findoutthefacts Jul 8, 2009

    "I really wonder if they were all White Women if this story would get more attention and possibly be solved. Again, another case of race in this state, but of course I'm sure no one wants to admit."

    Ha - Rocky Mount and Edgecombe county both have black sheriffs, black chief of police, a majority black city council and a majority black population. So if anyone is neglecting these "poor black women", then it would be the blacks. So are you calling yourselves racist?

    I personally am offended that you made the above comment. No one tried to interject racism here except for yourself. So...apologize!

  • msmac0622 Jul 7, 2009

    Just because the law enforcement leaders are black doesn't mean the lack of interest in linking these murders is not due to the fact that they are all black women, or maybe have had drug addictions or possibly engaged in prostitution to feed their addictions. What ever the circumstances...it's ashame that the lives of these human beings are not getting the attention they should. I don't know them personally, but they had children, families, friends that loved them...they laughed , cried, and breathed just like all of us....I hope the law enforcement will get serious before more lives are lost..and more families left devastated.

  • oldschooltarheel Jul 7, 2009

    Hmmm... maybe not a serial killer's dumping ground discovered? Instead a coincidental common dumping area for unconnected murders? Sure, that's the ticket. Cat's outta the bag now fellers - better get a move on & actually follow up some of them missing person's reports... lessen the reporters do it fer ya....

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Jul 7, 2009

    Jack the ripper?

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jul 7, 2009

    get over it people: "I find this odd that this story has not been in the news alot or publicized. ..... I really wonder if they were all White Women if this story would get more attention and possibly be solved."

    The reason it hasn't been publicized is a pattern wasn't realized until recently. These 5 deaths happened over a 5 year period. And they are spread out quite a bit. The news makes it sound like they were all in the same field. But they were actually spread out over a few miles. An average of one a year and spread out, not easy to put that all together until now.

  • vote4changeASAP Jul 7, 2009

    get over it people, I'm pretty sure the Rocky Mount police cheif is black and so is the county sherriff. The lack of investigating is not racially motivated.

  • hollylama Jul 7, 2009

    So many people have to get killed in a county before its considered a serial killer (sk). Ol' dude in SC shot 5 people in a week and he's considered a serial killer. Seems like he was just on a killing spree. The situation in Rocky Mount seems to fit the SK description more.

  • get over it people Jul 7, 2009

    I find this odd that this story has not been in the news alot or publicized. There seems to be someone killing women and dumping their bodies in Edgecombe County. I really wonder if they were all White Women if this story would get more attention and possibly be solved. Again, another case of race in this state, but of course I'm sure no one wants to admit. Just keep sweeping it under the rug. Thanks alot NC!

  • voiceofreason32 Jul 7, 2009

    The bad thing is that it is a hard case to work. with all the violence in Rocky Mount, you never know if this is a serial killer, or just several different people who had problems with these women. Hopefully, they can check with other states and see if they are having the same patterns. If this is a serial killer, he probably has done a lot more.

  • haggis basher Jul 7, 2009

    Were any/all these victims streetwalkers? Dangerous game....even without serial killers.