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Human remains found in Edgecombe County

Edgecombe County authorities have notified the families of two missing Rocky Mount women after a set of human remains were found in a rural part of the county on Monday.

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TARBORO, N.C. — Edgecombe County authorities have notified the families of two missing Rocky Mount women after a set of human remains was found in a rural part of the county on Monday, the sheriff said Tuesday.

Sheriff James Knight said Tuesday that hunters searching for deer antlers found the body off a path in some woods off Battleboro-Leggett Road near Speights Chapel Road shortly before 5 p.m. and called authorities.

Knight said the remains have not yet been identified and that it was unclear how long they had been in the woods.

The remains were found just outside the search grid where the North Carolina National Guard spent two days in April helping authorities search for Yolanda Renee Lancaster, 37, and Joyce Renee Durham, 49.

Lancaster, who has been missing since February 2009, and Durham, last seen in June 2007, are among a group of 10 women whose disappearances are the subject of an investigation by a special task force to see if the disappearances are related.

Over the past five years, eight have turned up dead. The remains of many have been found along Seven Bridges Road, a 13-mile country road between the rural Edgecombe communities of Battleboro and Whitakers.

Battleboro-Leggett Road is in the vicinity.

“It’s similar,” Knight said Tuesday of the remains found. “The M.O. is similar to the ones we’ve been investigating in this area.”

All of the women share similar backgrounds and physical appearances, and many frequented Holly Street in Rocky Mount, an area known for drug activity and prostitution. Many of the women knew each other, their families have said.

Authorities charged Antwan Maurice Pittman in September 2009 in one of the deaths and have since named him as a suspect or person of interest in at least five others.

Family members of Lancaster and Durham say this is the third time within the past year that they have been notified about remains that could be their daughters.

“Can’t nobody understand how hard it is to keep going through this over and over,” Lancaster’s mother, Juray Tucker, said Tuesday.

“We just put our faith and hope in God’s hands,” Durham’s stepfather, Winston Kemp, said.

In August, Tucker said she has tried to remain hopeful, even though she knows there is little likelihood that her daughter will be found alive.

“As long as it has been with no word from her, I have to be realistic that there’s a possibility that it can go another way. I’m trying to prepare myself for that. I know you can’t, but I‘ve got to be real. I've got to be real," she said.


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