Local News

News conference on Edgecombe slayings planned

Posted August 31, 2009 6:28 p.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2009 9:35 a.m. EDT

— Authorities investigating the unsolved slayings of at least five Rocky Mount women and the disappearances of three others have planned a news conference for Tuesday.

A secretary for Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight, however, would not say Monday what would be discussed at the 2:30 p.m. event.

Authorities, including the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office, Rocky Mount Police Department and State Bureau of Investigation, have said very little about the cases, including whether they might be linked.

Since 2005, authorities have recovered the remains of Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31, Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28; Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29; Ernestine Battle, 50, and Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, in the same rural region of Edgecombe County. Someone discovered a sixth body in February that has yet to be identified.

Hargrove's sister, Pepita Hargrove, told WRAL News last Friday that a family friend told her that investigators have a photo of a possible suspect but that she has not seen it. An SBI agent denied her request, she said.

Knight would not discuss the investigation Friday, other than to say that it was progressing.

Each of the known victims was black, from Rocky Mount and had a history of drug use and had run-ins with the law. Each was reported missing before their bodies were discovered.

Three other women with similar descriptions and backgrounds – Christine Marie Boone, Renee Joyce Durham and Yolanda Renee Lancaster – remain missing.

A New Jersey nonprofit group is offering a $10,000 reward is for information leading to an arrest in the cases.