WRAL Investigates

Families of murdered, missing women march in Rocky Mount

Posted September 3, 2009 5:48 p.m. EDT
Updated September 3, 2009 10:50 p.m. EDT

— Friends and family members of a group of missing or slain Rocky Mount women planned a neighborhood march on Thursday evening to encourage people to come forward with new leads in the cases.

Five African-American women – Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 29, Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31, Ernestine Battle, 50, Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, and Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29 – each were reported missing before their remains were found in rural Edgecombe County. A sixth set of remains, yet to be identified, was found in Rocky Mount in February. Three women similar descriptions and backgrounds are missing from Rocky Mount.

The families of eight of these women formed the community group MOMS (Murdered or Missing Sisters). In the past month, the group held fundraisers to help raise money for three electronic billboards, which show each woman individually and then all together. A question mark represents the sixth unidentified victim.

Antwan Maurice Pittman, 31, whose last known address was 219 Anderson St., was charged Tuesday with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Nicholson.

The family of Yolanda Renee Lancaster, who was last seen on Feb. 5, hope that Pittman’s arrest shows investigators are making headway in the other cases.

“I am hoping that since they got him – and I’m praying – everything else will fall into place,” Lancaster’s mother Juray Tucker said this week.

Tucker is raising Lancaster's 10-year-old daughter and 9-year-old brother.

"They're beginning to cry and ask where their mother is. That's hard. I don't know what to tell them," Tucker said.

Thorpe's mother, Jackie Wiggins, said she attended the walk on Thursday as a way to intervene in her daughter's absence.

About 40 people attended the march through a neighborhood off of East Grand Avenue.

MOMS is planning another awareness event on Sept. 19.