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Slain, missing Rocky Mount women remembered during vigil

Posted April 25, 2010
Updated April 26, 2010

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— The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined the Rocky Mount community for a prayer vigil Sunday to bring attention to unsolved Edgecombe County slayings.

Several women with similar backgrounds have been found dead in the same area, and two more are missing.

National Guardsmen, police officers and firefighters searched earlier this month around Seven Bridges road near Whitakers, where the remains of five women have been found since August 2007.

The special task force search was at the request of Edgecombe Sheriff James Knight. He has said that investigators believe the remains of Yolanda Renee Lancaster and Joyce Renee Durham could be found in the same area.

Lancaster's mother, Juray Tucker, attended the prayer vigil Sunday where families comforted one another.

"I can relate to them. I can understand what they are going through, and they can understand what I am going through," Tucker said.

In all, the remains of eight women have been found over the past four years – seven in rural Edgecombe County and one in Halifax County.

Each was black, had a history of drugs or prostitution and had disappeared. Family members and friends have said that some of the women knew each other.

The most recent discovery came March 27, when investigators recovered the skeletal remains of Roberta Williams, 40, approximately 20 yards inside a wooded area off Seven Bridges Road. Williams was never reported missing but was last seen in spring 2008.

Lancaster, 37, was last seen Feb. 5, 2009; Durham, 47, was last seen in June 2007.

Authorities arrested Antwan Maurice Pittman in one of the cases, and a search warrant returned last month in Halifax County indicates that investigators are looking at him in at least five of the cases.

Crews have previously searched in a 1-mile radius of where each body was found, but the special task force search was the first massive effort of the entire 13-mile stretch of road.

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  • r u crazy too Apr 26, 2010

    The pattern here is not that these women were disappearing, it's that the bodies are being found in the same approximate area. Nobody knew they were missing, until the bodies were found. Their own families didn't report them until after bodies started showing up. Unfortunately these were all "fringe" ladies. LEO has been all over this case since a pattern of dead bodies was established. I bet that you could go to any town and find similar cases among the homeless, illegals, drug society, destitute or people who live on the fringe. We just haven't found their bodies yet.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Apr 26, 2010

    By the way, keep the vigils going. I'm sure THAT will help find the victims or convict the murderer.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Apr 26, 2010

    If these had been innocent Homemakers or business women, you can BET this would have been addressed after the second abduction. And it would have made HUGE nationwide news.

    But it wasn't and it didn't. The simple reason... these women were ALL involved in illegal activities. Typically, you aren't close with family when involved in illegal activities such as this. So family may not know your missing for a very long time. And it didn't make national news for a long time because EVERYONE knows these women ALL put themselves in harm's way.

  • anneonymousone Apr 26, 2010

    Of course people cared about these women! Sometimes drug abusers (including abusers of alcohol) disappear for a while; and if those absences were typical, who do their families ask for information?

    Drug users and people working in prostitution may have other obstacles to close family relationships, and out of shame, regret, or having burned a few too many bridges, may not keep in touch wih their families.

  • hank5049 Apr 26, 2010

    So if the families of these drug addicts and prostitutes didn't care about them why; should we?????? notagain1903

    the black community of rocky mount does not care about these women. there were only 150 people at the service last night as reported by the rocky mount telegram. how many were there for the dead or missing women VS. how many were there to see and hear Barber Naacp president speak?

  • tatermommy52 Apr 26, 2010

    This is further evidence that some elected state officials dont care about certain groups until election time.

  • notagain1903 Apr 26, 2010

    The most recent discovery came March 27, when investigators recovered the skeletal remains of Roberta Williams, 40, approximately 20 yards inside a wooded area off Seven Bridges Road. Williams was never reported missing but was last seen in spring 2008.

    Lancaster, 37, was last seen Feb. 5, 2009; Durham, 47, was last seen in June 2007.

    So if the families of these drug addicts and prostitutes didn't care about them why; should we?????? I just hope the NAACP spends time with the families and inform them on how to be a family and care about each other rather than getting on the soap box and scream injustice!!!!!!!

  • froggytroat Apr 26, 2010

    Some of the people were not even known to be missing until their bodies were found.

  • ContinuityMan Apr 26, 2010

    It's disturbing that no one noticed the pattern of all these women disappearing over the last few years. What's with that?