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Unsolved Slaying Still Haunts Rougemont

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ROUGEMONT, N.C. — A year after a woman was found slain in northern Durham County, investigators are no closer to finding her killer.

Rosa Crabtree, 68, was found stabbed to death in her Rougemont home on Nov. 7, 2005. She had been stabbed five times with a pair of scissors, and a Bible was lying next to her on the living room floor, authorities said.

Crabtree had returned home from church and was getting ready for bed when she was killed, her family said.

The slaying was the first homicide in Rougemont in 40 years.

Tony Crabtree, who found his mother's body during his daily visit to her home, said the slaying still haunts his family and the rest of the community.

"It kind of burdens you down a little bit, knowing what took place," he said. "I mean, the evil that was done here to my mother."

Authorities believe the killer's intent was robbery, noting two televisions, a DVD player and some jewelry were taken.

Evidence collected from the house indicates more than one person was involved, but investigators said it's likely only one stabbed the woman most locals referred to as "Miss Rosa Lee."

Shortly after the incident, investigators spent $2,000 to send some evidence to a private lab for processing instead of the State Bureau of Investigation lab. The move was intended to expedite the investigation, but it hasn't yet resulted in an arrest.

"We've probably talked to several hundred people in the last year," said Capt. Paul Martin of the Durham County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said DNA samples obtained from inside the house have eliminated some suspects out of 20 persons of interest they initially targeted, but the evidence hasn't linked anyone to the crime.

Investigators believe Rosa Crabtree knew her killers, and they think they know who the suspects are.

"Knowing it and proving it are two different things," Martin said.

Short of getting his mother back, Crabtree said he just wants justice.

"The first question I'd want to know is why. Why do what you did to her?" he said. "It's a tough load to carry, it really is."


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