Local News

Neighbors concerned after woman's body found on Durham trail

Posted May 7, 2014
Updated May 8, 2014

— Melissa Mills loves the Rocky Creek Trail, even though she says it isn't safe.

"I'm trying to get back in shape and I love the trail," said Mills, who was riding her bike. "I know that it's dangerous."

Investigators are treating the death of an unidentified woman found Wednesday morning along the trail as a homicide.

Durham police Chief Jose Lopez said someone in the area called police around 6:15 a.m. after finding the woman's clothed body near the Elmira Avenue entrance.

Lopez said investigators believe the woman was between 19 and 40 years old and that her body was on the trail overnight.

"At this point, we are trying to figure out who she is and what actually happened here," he said. "There are still a lot of questions we are going to look to answer."

Authorities haven't said what kind of clothing the woman was wearing or provided any details about how she might have died.

According to a 911 recording, however, the caller said there was a lot of blood.

"I don't know if she's dead or not but she's laid out with a lot of blood on her chest," the caller said.

Verlie Shaw, who lives steps from where the woman's body was found, didn't hear any shots or screams.

"You just can't live in a neighborhood without people doing such horrible crimes," she said.

Less than a mile long, Rocky Creek Trail runs south of Fayetteville Street in Durham and ends at Dakota Street just west of N.C. Highway 55.

Mills, the biker, plans to return to the trail because avoiding the area doesn't solve its crime issues.

"For us, to desert the places that are vulnerable does not make the world safer," she said.

Investigators ask that anyone with information about the woman's death should call Durham CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases, and callers never have to identify themselves.


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  • frosty May 8, 2014

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    Lighter gun heavier I-pod, think of them as "training weights".

  • Chris Vet May 8, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    Walking on a park trail is knowingly putting yourself in danger? THat's just dumb.

  • Stan TheMan May 8, 2014
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    By the way since I can not post the link to the victims arrest records just enter her name into google and locate the site operated by nc dps offender public information.

  • jackaroe123 May 8, 2014

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    ...for some, and those people deserve criticism for that view. There is a huge difference between people who take foolish risks and people who do so on principle, just like the person who fails to evacuate for an emergency and therefore gets hurt vs the rescue worker employed to do exactly that. And in either case, recognizing that person's own culpability in his or her outcome does not preclude our feeling sorry for that person if we have any empathy or grace to extend to others at all.

  • tapoutnc May 8, 2014

    This is beginning to become so common it's not even shocking anymore.

  • Cathy Cheek May 8, 2014
    user avatar

    I grew up in durham and its always been a high crime area you just hear about it more now,, nothing that happens there surprises me anymore ,, People are so mean now its terrible

  • Super Hans May 8, 2014

    It's kind of hard to have sympathy for people when they knowingly put themselves in dangerous situations.

  • DURHAMBULL May 8, 2014

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    That's why they teach women to scream "fire" instead of "rape", people are more likely to help.

  • ncouterbanks69 May 8, 2014

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    They mean safer than downtown.....of course that does not say much.

  • Lightfoot3 May 8, 2014

    "Because no one wants to get killed? Seems pretty logical to me." - Obamacare returns again

    nascar33 wasn't saying it was illogical for people to be too scared to do anything, but that out of the multiple 911 calls not a single one had the courage to go help? I don't fault anyone for being afraid and looking after themselves. I always run from trouble if I can. But I don't think I could ignore (i.e. not GO help) the cries, if they sounded as legit as described. Of course, I'm always armed. But you also have to be careful interjecting yourself into these situations as some women will scream "rape" when that's not the case.