Local News

FBI to join Edgecombe bodies probe

Posted July 26, 2009 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated July 26, 2009 10:44 p.m. EDT

— The Federal Bureau of Investigation is joining the probe into the discovery of remains of five missing Rocky Mount women in the same rural area of Edgecombe County.

"It is methodically going through tips and information that we hope will lead us to the right person,” Rocky Mount Police Chief John Manley said Sunday of the investigation.

The remains of Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31, and Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, were found in a field on Seven Bridges Road between Battleboro and Whitakers. Hargrove, who was reported missing in May, was discovered last month; Thorpe, reported missing in May 2007, was discovered three months later.

Ernestine Battle, 50; Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29; and Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28; were also found in the same area.

A sixth body discovered in February has yet to be identified, and three other missing women with similar descriptions and backgrounds – Christine Marie Boone, Renee Joyce Durham and Yolanda Renee Lancaster – remain missing.

To help raise money for a series of billboards about the unsolved slayings, 35 people took part in a bike ride Sunday. The bikers rode through the streets of Edgecombe County, and past the rural area where some of the women's bodies were discovered.

"It was somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, somebody's mother. So it could be you, and you would want someone to help you out," biker Terrance Dickens said.

Family members of the some of the victims recently organized the group MOMS – Missing or Murdered Sisters. It aims to draw attention to the unsolved cases.

"It's so hard, God knows it is. I stay in prayer. That's what keeps me going,” said Diana Nicholson, mother of victim – Taraha Shenice Nicholson.

Money raised Sunday by the bike ride will join funds for billboards gathered last weekend by MOMS. The group has raised $816 of the $1,300 needed for the billboards. To donate, people can make a check payable to MOMS at any Wachovia banking branch.

Meanwhile, the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office, Rocky Mount Police Department and State Bureau of Investigation are part of a task force looking into the slain women cases. The Edgecombe County District Attorney's Office is also lending support to investigators, and the FBI plans to join the probe this week, Manley said.

Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office at 252-641-7911.