Local News

Neighbors question why murders remain unsolved

Posted July 10, 2009 9:14 p.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2009 11:08 p.m. EDT

— Rocky Mount and the Edgecombe community are dealing with a growing list of unsolved murders.

Sheriff James 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 deaths of five women, 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, Knight has said.

At least three women who had been missing and turned up murdered were known by neighbors along Grand Avenue in Rocky Mount's northeast section.

A woman, who asked WRAL News to conceal her identity, said she was friends with Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, Taraha Shenice Nicholson and Jackie Nikelia Thorpe.

The remains of Hargrove, 31, were found June 29 near the intersection of Seven Bridges and Old Battleboro roads.

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

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

The woman said she is outraged and said no one cared about finding her friends’ killer until now.

“Regardless of what a person do (sic) or what they have done, it doesn’t give them the right to put it off this long,” she said. “The only reason why they’re doing something now is because it’s in the paper. It’s on the news so they have to.”

The other Rocky Mount women found dead were:
  • Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29, who 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.
  • Ernestine Battle, 50, who was found in the same area March 13, 2008, more than a month after she was reported missing on Feb. 2.

Authorities have 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