Local News

Tensions heightened with report of missing woman

Posted July 21, 2009
Updated July 22, 2009

— Some people are wondering if a serial killer is lurking in Edgecombe County after the bodies of five women were found in a rural area and three other women remain missing.

Tensions heightened Tuesday as another Rocky Mount woman, fitting a similar description of the victims, went missing.

Mary Michelle Williams, 40, of 801 Long Ave., was last seen around 7 a.m. Sunday when she stopped by a friend's home at 1606 Old Wilson Road to pick up her 12 year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

However, the children were staying with their babysitter at 808 S. Tillery St., police said. When Williams never arrived at that location, the friend called police.

Capt. Laura Fahnestock, commander of the police department's Criminal Investigations Division, said police located Williams just before 8 p.m. Tuesday. She was unharmed and stated she did not want her family to be aware of her location, Fahnestock said.

rocky mount Missing Rocky Mount woman found

"Her kids have been number one in her life,” said Darryl Charles, the son of the woman who filed a missing person report.

Williams' father said authorities quickly began searching for his daughter since her profile matched that of the other slain or missing women.

"They wanted to jump on the case and locate her as quickly as possible,” Larry Williams said.

The father said his daughter had gone missing for days at a time before, but due to the unsolved slayings, he was more concerned this time.

"The reason they were concerned is because they did not want her to end up like the other five women,” Larry Williams said.

The remains of Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31, and Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, were found in a field on Seven Bridges Road between Battleboro and Whitakers. Hargrove, who was reported missing in May, was discovered last month; Thorpe, reported missing in May 2007, was discovered three months later.

Ernestine Battle, 50; Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29; and Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28; were also found in the same area.

A sixth body discovered in February has yet to be identified, and three other missing women with similar descriptions and backgrounds – Christine Marie Boone, Renee Joyce Durham and Yolanda Renee Lancaster – remain missing.

Mary Michelle Williams' background had similarities to the slain women, such as she is known to frequent hotels and drug areas, police said.

Charles said he knew some of the slain women and was worried Mary Michelle Williams had suffered the same fate.

"That was my mother's main concern for calling, because other women have gone missing around Rocky Mount,” Charles said.

Meanwhile, Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office, Rocky Mount Police Department and State Bureau of Investigation are part of a task force looking into the slain women cases. The Edgecombe County District Attorney's Office is also lending support to investigators.

Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office at 252-641-7911.


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  • SWEET-N-SOUR Jul 22, 2009

    She should have to pay to the city any costs incurred during her missing, especially since she didn't want anyone to find her...and her kids are number one in her life.

  • r u crazy too Jul 22, 2009

    GravyPig: amen, she doesn't care for her children (although, "they're the number one things in her life"), she doesn't want her family to know where she's at. Sounds like she's a little selfish. I doubt she follows WRAL and/or cares what the media or we are saying.

  • psm5000 Jul 22, 2009

    I see this story has again been updated---I THINK she has been located, as was reported last night. As it reads this morning, I can't tell. If she has been located, then WHY is this even news--headline is very misleading!

  • GravyPig Jul 22, 2009

    "What's the point of this story?" - Iworkforaliving

    I'm guessing the point is for the media to embarass this lady by posting and repeating her full name several times, and to point out that she frequents hotels and drug areas.

    Actually, I'm not sure what the point is. I mean it's not really news that an addict(i'm assuming) went awol to get a fix, and now she is found safe. If she truly went missing then it would be a story. Besides, she looks a bit "thicker" than the other victims, she is probably not the killers "type".

    I don't mean to be harsh, but why should we care about this woman when she doesn't appear to care for herself or her family?

    It's really just sad that these women put themselves in harms way, and that there is someone out there who is killing them.

  • Iworkforaliving Jul 22, 2009

    What's the point of this story?

  • r u crazy too Jul 22, 2009

    While I'm sympathetic to the deaths of these women, but when she says that she doesn't want her family to know where she is, she loses my concern. Not painting her with the same brush as the others, but if she don't care, why should we?

  • fourfivesix Jul 22, 2009

    nancy, this story states that she was found and didn't want her family to be notified of her location...

  • wcumom Jul 22, 2009

    AND the point is???????? These "women" if you will are playing or have played in traffic and we expect nothing to happen to them in the enviroment they have chosen.Find a REAL story please!!!!!

  • teach4ever Jul 22, 2009

    So this is a story abut ALMOST being a story...

  • 4DukeTillDeath Jul 22, 2009

    Please take this womans kids away and give them to the grandparents. Dropping your kids off for days at a time going on a drug binge? If having two kids that may look up to you is not enough to kick the habit, I'm not sure what is. I do know she should not be allowed to be a mom.