Local News

Rocky Mount body identified

Posted October 12, 2009 4:05 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2009 10:45 p.m. EDT

— The body of a woman found in Rocky Mount on Feb. 13 has been identified as 33-year-old Elizabeth Jane Smallwood, police said Monday.

Smallwood, whose last known address was 249 Hill St., had not been reported missing to authorities.

A medical examiner’s report indicated that Smallwood’s remains, which were found along Melton Drive at the Nash-Edgecombe county line, could have been there for six months to a year.

An official cause of death was not known, police said.

In Nash and Edgecombe counties, Smallwood was arrested on charges of prostitution, assault,  drug possession, larceny and resisting arrest.

A special task force is investigating Smallwood's death along with five murdered women all found in the same rural area of Edgecombe County.

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.

Wiggins was also reported missing from a home on Hill Street.

Three other women with similar descriptions and backgrounds are missing from Rocky Mount. They are: Christine Marie Boone, Renee Joyce Durham and Yolanda Renee Lancaster.

Antwan Maurice Pittman, 31, whose last known address was 219 Anderson St. in Rocky Mount, was charged last month with one-count of first degree murder in the Nicholson’s death.

The Kefalas Pinto Foundation has offered a $10,000 reward in the case. Rocky Mount City Council and Edgecombe County commissioners agreed to match that amount, putting up $5,000 each to bring the reward total to $20,000, for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction or leads to the discovery of the missing women.

Anyone with information on this case should contact Crime Stoppers at 252-977-1111 or the Rocky Mount Police Department at 252-972-1411.

Patricia Martin, who leads the grassroots organization MOMS (Murdered or Missing Sisters), said the identification of Smallwood's remains just reinforces her commitment to find those responsible.

Quatoshia Hill, another MOMS member, wants to know what happened to her cousin, Dexter Johnson. She said Johnson lived near some of the murdered women.

Johnson was murdered in 2006, though she doesn't believe his murder is linked to the six women.

“We as a family need closure. We live in a neighborhood,” Hill said. “We could be coming in contact with the person who did this every day.”

“I refuse to let it die down,” Martin said.