Local News

Profiler: Edgecombe authorities likely looking for serial killer

Posted July 13, 2009 6:44 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2009 7:48 p.m. EDT

— Authorities investigating the unsolved slayings of several women whose remains were found in the same remote area of Edgecombe County are likely chasing a serial killer.

That's according to Dr. Michael Teague, a forensic psychologist and former psychological profiler for the Raleigh Police Department and state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

In the past four years, authorities have recovered the remains of six bodies within a two-mile vicinity of Seven Bridges and Old Battleboro roads outside Rocky Mount.

Three of the women were found in the same field. Of the six, one has yet to be identified.

Of those confirmed, each were missing black women from Rocky Mount who had a reported history of either drugs or prostitution. Family members of the women have also said that many knew at least some of the other victims.

Three women who fit similar profiles remain missing.

A special task force consisting of Edgecombe County sheriff's investigators, Rocky Mount police officers and agents with the State Bureau of Investigation are now trying to determine if the cases are linked.

Teague is not involved in the case but, from the outside, said he sees elements of what he calls an organized serial killer.

"This fellow already knows what he's going to do with the dead body. It's like Step 1, 2, 3, 4, and Step 4 is the disposal of the body," he said. "I doubt they have much or any guilt about this."

Although Teague draws no specific conclusion on the Edgecombe cases, he does provide some insight into what investigators might be doing. Authorities have said little about the case to keep from jeopardizing their investigation.

Teague said that about 70 percent of serial killers focus on prostitutes, because their lifestyle makes them convenient targets.

"Part of that is (killers') justification that (prostitutes) are less than human or that they're bad people," he said. "It has a whole lot to do with how easy it is to pick up a prostitute and kill someone."

But Teague said he does not think that means prostitutes are the sole target of any killer in these cases. By no means should anyone in the area let down their guard, he said.

"I mean, I don't think he would say, 'Oh gosh, she's not a prostitute I'm not going to kill her,'" Teague said. "He'd kill anybody, I'd think, that is isolated."

The rural location of the case seems particularly unusual to Teague. He said most serial cases happen in large urban areas.

"That is his comfort zone, so he feels very comfortable there," Teague said of the Edgecombe County area in which the bodies were found. "He knows all the nooks and crannies."

Teague said the sudden focus of attention on a case, such as this one, could often have an impact on the killer's behavior.

"Sometimes, they'll totally stop for a while or go to some other rural area they're familiar with," he said. "If we're not able to apprehend him now, he could come back in a couple of years."

View Edgecombe County bodies in a larger map