Local News

Images of missing, murdered women appear on billboards

Posted July 28, 2009

— The images of five missing and murdered Rocky Mount women now flash on billboards in Rocky Mount. The signs were placed on Tuesday to help raise awareness about the murders, which are being probed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A community group, MOMS (Murdered or Missing Sisters) used fish fries and motorcycle rides to raise money for the three electronic billboards. The signs show each woman individually and then screen with all of them. A question mark represents a sixth unidentified victim.

“It lets me know that somebody does care,” said Diana Nicholson, mother of Taraha Shenice Nicholson, whose remains were found in March 7 on Marriott Road in Edgecombe County. The 28-year-old had been reported missing on Feb. 22.

Edgecombe slain women Rocky Mount billboards show missing, murdered women

Jackie Wiggins has waited nearly two years for answers in the murder of her daughter Jackie Thorpe, whose body was found Aug. 27, 2007 behind a house on Seven Bridges Road, between Battleboro and Whitakers in Edgecombe County. The 35-year-old had been reported missing on May 8, 2007.

“Questions and doors that were closed before are now being answered and opening,” Wiggins said on Tuesday.

Members of the community group told WRAL News that the billboards are a reflection of the heightened community awareness. Five bodies of African-American women have been found in the county in four years.

In addition to Nicholson and Thorpe, the bodies of Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31; Ernestine Battle, 50; and Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29, were all 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.

Both mothers say they were recently interviewed by members of the FBI. Wiggins said the agent told her the agency does have some “outstanding leads.” She said the conversation gave her new hope, especially after hearing authorities do have some possible suspects.

Lamar Advertising gave the community group a significant discount on the billboards. The signs will stay up for at least a month. Supporters said they hope to raise more money to keep them up longer, if needed. Two of the billboards are on US-301 and the other is near the intersection of Winstead and Sunset avenues.


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  • findoutthefacts Jul 30, 2009

    "findoutthefacts - is your comment fact based. You know that family or friends have sat back and did nothing?"annieaamrm

    First of all, the grammatically correct phrase is "have sat back and done nothing". But...if you don't even know correct English, I doubt you are too aware of other factual information either.

    Why yes...I do know for a fact that they didn't press the issue. Past filing a police report, nothing other than sitting and waiting for the police to find their relative, that is all that was done. Hello...this has been going on for years. It wasnt until the media was notified that this became an issue. So why did it take so long for someone to contact the media?

  • anneonymousone Jul 29, 2009

    Of course racism plays a part in how murders and missing persons cases are dealt with by the media and the society as a whole. It's not right, but is is true.

    Don't believe me? Think Jonbonet Ramesey and any African American child who has gone missing.

    The protection of women and children in this culture (and many others) sounds like a good idea, but the news (and DOJ crime statistics) tells me that we are quite often unsafe at the hands of the very people who know us and claim to care for us.

    No, this is not an anti-male tirade; I am opposed in an equal-opportunity way to violence against anyone by anyone.

  • annieaamrm Jul 29, 2009

    findoutthefacts - is your comment fact based. You know that family or friends have sat back and did nothing?

  • Granny Jul 29, 2009

    Why does it always come down to Black or White?? These are women with souls...and with families and loved ones out there...people need to quit looking at the color of someones skin and look at the person...and that is for both black and white people....we are all one and God loves us all!

  • brettmonkey Jul 29, 2009

    Well, I might be watching too much CSI, but I think that they are overlooking something. The guilty party probably met all of these victims at a women's prison somewhere or a detention center... How often is it that they would all have a mugshot, with the same gray block wall in the background? Conspiracy theory???

  • luvmyjackrascal Jul 29, 2009

    This is a wonderful idea! Now their faces are in view and they will be remembered every time someone looks at that billboard - this is an awful long time for so many murders to be unsolved. Definitely does not make you feel safe...

  • findoutthefacts Jul 29, 2009

    All of you who complain about other races getting more attention. Do you know who it is that usually takes the reigns and makes sure that attention is drawn to their circumstance? It is usually their family members or friends.

    How long did the family or friends of these victims sit back and do nothing or complain that no one was doing this for them?

  • happymom Jul 29, 2009

    As horrible as it would be to lose someone in such a manner, it can not be easy to also feel that their death didn't matter enough to draw attention. I'm thankful that they no longer have to suffer in silence.

    I hope the killer is caught soon and that these families can find some amount of comfort in knowing that the person responsible can not hurt anyone else's loved ones.

  • Professor Jul 29, 2009

    ambidextrous cat

    Thanks for a good comment; which was very true. All races that was created by God is important. I just wish man could see this.

  • ambidextrous cat Jul 29, 2009

    It's sad how women that aren't white, middle class or 'moral' enough for society's standards are often ignored. If I went missing I wonder if my picture would appear on the news? Would anyone care? Women, who disappear, regardless of race deserve justice. I hope that the killer is found and punished. If I had some money I would donate to their cause. It must be horrible to lose a family member in such a fashion.