Local News

Missing Rocky Mount woman ID'd as fifth body

Posted July 7, 2009 2:29 p.m. EDT
Updated July 9, 2009 7:03 p.m. EDT

— Skeletal remains found late last month in a wooded area in Edgecombe County are those of a woman who was reported missing two months ago, authorities said Tuesday.

The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office said dental records confirmed the remains – found June 29 near the intersection of Seven Bridges and Old Battleboro roads – to be those of Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31.

Hargrove, who was reported missing May 2, was last seen walking along U.S. Highway 301 in northern Rocky Mount.

Authorities declined to say how she had died, but Hargrove's mother, Patsy Hargrove, said Tuesday afternoon that Sheriff James Knight told her Monday that her daughter likely had been strangled.

Hargrove said Knight also told her that authorities are looking to see if the case is in any way connected to four other unsolved homicides over the past four years.

"Wherever this serial killer is, if there is one, I would like them to be captured, to be punished for what they did to my daughter," Hargrove said. "They took our love, our joy, from us."

Knight has publicly confirmed that his office, the Rocky Mount Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation have formed a task force to examine the cases, but he has stopped short of saying the cases are linked or that they believe they might be the working of a serial killer.

Each case is similar in that the victims were black women from Rocky Mount and were all found in the same vicinity as Hargrove, Knight has said.

Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29, was found May 30, 2005, near Nobles Mill Pond Road, an area south of U.S. Highway 64. She died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to an autopsy report.

Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, who was reported missing May 8, 2007, was found Aug. 17, 2007, behind a house on Seven Bridges Road.

The body of 50-year-old Ernestine Battle was found in the same area March 13, 2008, more than a month after she was reported missing on Feb. 2.

On March 7, 2009, the remains of Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28, were found on Marriott Road. Knight has said she had been strangled.

Authorities also found on Feb. 13 skeletal remains of an unidentified black woman along Melton Drive in Rocky Mount. Authorities believe the woman was between 27 to 49 years old.

View Edgecombe County bodies in a larger map