Local News

Edgecombe women's families say they need answers

Posted December 4, 2009 6:20 p.m. EST
Updated December 4, 2009 6:32 p.m. EST

— Three months after a Rocky Mount man was charged in the slaying of a missing woman, family members of other victims say they still have no resolution in their cases.

"It's slow, and it's frustrating," said Jackie Wiggins, whose daughter, Jackie Thorpe, was found dead Aug. 17, 2007, behind a house on Seven Bridges Road in a rural part of Edgecombe county.

Thorpe, 35, is one of six women all matching similar profiles found dead over the past four years – five in rural Edgecombe County, one in Rocky Mount.

Three other women remain missing, and their cases are also among those that a special task force of local, state and federal investigators are looking at to determine if they are linked.

On Sept. 1, authorities arrested Antwan Maurice Pittman on a first-degree murder charge in the strangling death of one of those women, Taraha Shenice Nicholson.

Authorities have not named him a suspect in any of the other cases.

Family members of the victims and the missing say they had hoped the arrest would shed light on the other cases.

"It seems like it's getting harder and harder every day," said Juray Tucker, whose daughter, Yolanda Lancaster, was reported missing in February. "Right now, they can't tie (Pittman) to anything else. That's all they'll tell us."

Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight has refused to comment about whether Pittman is a suspect or person of interest in any of the other Edgecombe cases.

Rocky Mount police, who have jurisdiction over the three missing persons cases and the murder case of Elizabeth Smallwood,  say he is being considered a person of interest.

"Antwan Pittman is not a specific suspect with evidence tying to our three missing person cases and Elizabeth Smallwood, but that doesn't mean we are not looking at him," Rocky Mount police Capt. Laura Fahnestock said.

She added that the cases remain a high priority for investigators and that they are reviewed each week.

"At this point, however, all of our leads have been exhausted," Fahnestock said.

For family members of the victims, that's not what they want to hear either.

"I'm not at ease with (Pittman) being locked up," Wiggins said. "'Ms. Wiggins, we have definitely got the person who killed your daughter. We have enough evidence to proceed and charge him.' That's what I need."