The body of Roberta Ann Fulghum, 45, was found between U.S. Highway 264 and Countryside Road in a wooded ravine, authorities said.
She had been dead “for a period of time,” said Maj. John Farmer, with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.
The body was so decomposed it was hard to determine the cause of death, Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay said.
Investigators said they believe Fulghum's lifestyle had something to do with her death. Fulghum had a criminal history involving a simple assault charge, writing bad checks and forgery.
At one time Fulghum was a registered nurse.
“I understand years ago she lost her job because of possible substance abuse and went downhill from there,” Gay said.
Friends told investigators Fulghum went to Florida to restart her life and later returned to Wilson, where she worked various jobs.
Fulghum last worked at Mama Mia’s Pizzeria and Restaurant on 1700 Raleigh Road. She left her job as waitress about six months ago, restaurant’s management said.
Fulghum lived at the Village Motor Lodge off Highway 301 for several months, police said. Gay said the general area is known for drug activity. She was last seen leaving her home Sunday night.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area during the past five days should call the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office at 252-237-2118.