Local News

FBI behavioral analysis applied to Edgecombe County cases

Posted July 29, 2009 1:36 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2009 6:26 p.m. EDT

— Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Analysis Unit are working with local authorities to investigate a string of similar deaths in Edgecombe County, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

They join a team of investigators, which includes the sheriff's office, Rocky Mount Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation, in probing the deaths of five women whose bodies were found in or around the same area over the past four years.

Each of the known victims was black, from Rocky Mount, had a history of drugs and had a history of run-ins with the law. Each was reported missing before their bodies were discovered in a rural area of Edgecombe County. A sixth body discovered in February has yet to be identified.

Three other missing women with similar descriptions and backgrounds – Christine Marie Boone, Renee Joyce Durham and Yolanda Renee Lancaster – remain missing.

Amy Thoreson, spokeswoman with the Charlotte FBI office, said the bureau often gets called in on serial killer cases. Their analytical work focuses on who criminals are and how they think.

"I just thank God that there are more coming in to help solve these cases," Diana Nicholson said.

Her daughter, Taraha, was reported missing in February. Her remains were found March 7.  An autopsy report, released Wednesday, shows Nicholson likely died of strangulation. Her body also had evidence of "numerous linear abrasions consistent with dragging marks," the autopsy said.

Diana Nicholson said an agent came to her home Monday to ask detailed questions about her daughter's habits and social life.

The addition of FBI profilers to the investigation gives Jackie Wiggins hope that her daughter, Jackie Thorpe, will get justice.

"It's a big boost," she said. "The biggest boost I've had in two years, so it really feels good."

Wiggins talked to an FBI agent over the phone. He asked questions and offered some reassurance, she said.

"They do have some leads, outstanding leads was the way he gave it to me," she said.

Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight remains the point person in the investigation. He said Sunday that investigators are working hard to solve the cases and that they need the public's help.

Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office at 252-641-7911.