Local News

911 Calls Offer New Insight Into N.C. Central Student's Death

Posted January 31, 2008 11:10 a.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2008 8:36 a.m. EST

— A North Carolina Central University student found dead along Interstate 540 had called her husband to tell him she was on her way home from class Tuesday night and was going to stop to get something to eat, he told authorities in a 911 call obtained by WRAL.

"I talked to her (Tuesday) night when she was on her way home," Darin Curtis told the emergency dispatcher. "She was in the car and everything. She hasn't shown up since."

Latrese Matral Curtis, 21, called her husband about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Darin Curtis said in the 911 call. When she didn't return home, he called 911. Police said he filed a missing persons report at 8:25 a.m. Wednesday.

About an hour earlier, several motorists traveling on westbound I-540 called 911 to report a body on an embankment near Louisburg Road.

"I'm on 540 westbound, just past, I believe, the Buffaloe (Road) exit, about a mile before (U.S. Highway) 401," one caller said. "And I think there's a body on the side of the road. It's right behind the sign for 401."

"I think there's like somebody laying out on the side of the highway," another caller said. "There's a car pulled over. I just pulled over and said, 'Let me call the police, and let them just drive by and check.'"

Wake County investigators responded to the scene and found Latrese Curtis' body. She died of wounds apparently caused by a sharp object, authorities said.

They are treating the case as a homicide, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. They have not identified a suspect.

Crime scene investigators spent Wednesday combing the embankment and areas around where they found the body. They also searched Curtis' Nissan Sentra, which was about a quarter-mile away on the same side of the interstate. That was the car her husband said she had driven to class.

Authorities also searched Darin Curtis's car and the couple's home on Wednesday and talked with family members through the night, looking for answers, family members said. A sheriff's deputy remained stationed outside the home Thursday.

Neighbors said they had not seen Darin Curtis return home since his wife's death.

Meanwhile on Thursday, at N.C. Central, where Curtis was a junior majoring in administration and management, grief counselors were on hand. Students said they were devastated by the news.

"For somebody to end up on the road like that – what are people thinking?" asked student Chadae Clark. "It makes me think we really need to get it together. The world is a real messed up place."

At Auston Grove Apartments in Raleigh, where Curtis and her husband live, neighbors also expressed shock at the 21-year-old's death.

"It was devastating, I was devastated – for someone that young who had their life taken away," said Tanya Shields, who lives across from the Curtises. "I have daughters, so that really hurt."

Investigators want anyone who drove on I-540 late Tuesday night or early Wednesday and might have seen something related to the case to contact the sheriff's office at 919-856-6900.