Local News

Families of missing, slain women lean on each other

Posted December 24, 2009 6:13 p.m. EST
Updated December 25, 2009 6:52 a.m. EST

— A nonprofit group from Washington, D.C., came to Edgecombe County on Christmas Eve to bring cheer to a group of families with a shared sorrow.

Since 2005, authorities have recovered the remains of six women in rural Edgecombe and Nash counties. Three other women with similar descriptions and backgrounds are missing from Rocky Mount.

The women -- Christine Marie Boone, Renee Joyce Durham, Yolanda Renee Lancaster, Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, Taraha Shenice Nicholson, Melody LaShae Wiggins, Ernestine Battle, Elizabeth Jane Smallwood and Jackie Nikelia Thorpe – left behind 17 children.

Tara Nicholson's son is just 2 years old. He is being raised by his grandmother, Diana Nicholson.

“It is so sad. I miss her so dearly,” Diana Nicholson said of her daughter.

Taraha Shenice Nicholson was reported missing on Feb. 22. Her remains were found March 7 on Marriott Road in Edgecombe County.

Diana Nicholson brought her grandson to a Rocky Mount Golden Corral for a special celebration Thursday – a Christmas party for the families of all the missing and murdered women.

The event included meals for the families and presents for the children. Edgecombe County native Quenesha McNair put the event together with help from local volunteers.

“It’s good to know that with everything that's happened that they see the community is supporting them through the holiday season,” McNair said.

“It brings so much joy to us,” Diana Nicholson said.

Patsy Hargrove, whose daughter, Jarniece went missing in May, said “I'm just looking for something good to come out of this, you know? (It’s) a gathering for us to be with each other because we're going through the same thing right now.”

The skeletal remains of Jarniece Hargrove, 31, were found in a wooded area off Seven Bridges Road, near Rocky Mount, on June 29.

The families share the hurt and frustration of waiting for closure in the deaths and disappearances of their loved ones, but they find comfort in each other.

One man, Antwan Maurice Pittman, 31, has been arrested. He is charged in the death of Taraha Nicholson. Authorities won't comment on whether he's a suspect in the other cases.

“I can't make it happen,” Patsy Hargrove said. “I am trying to help it happen, so we just got to continue praying.”