Local News

Rocky Mount police chief suspects serial killer in deaths

Posted March 31, 2010 12:37 p.m. EDT
Updated April 1, 2010 3:44 p.m. EDT

— Skeletal remains found Saturday in an Edgecombe County area have been identified as a Rocky Mount woman last heard from two years ago, Sheriff James L. Knight said Wednesday.

The remains of Roberta Williams, 40, were discovered off Seven Bridges Road, between Battleboro and Whitakers.

Williams, who was found guilty of prostitution in 2006, fits a similar profile of several other women from Rocky Mount whose bodies were discovered within the past four years.

Each was black, had a history of drugs or prostitution and had disappeared. Family members and friends have said that some of the women knew each other.

"It's clear to me that we are dealing with a suspected serial killer," Rocky Mount police Chief John Manley said.

Manley said Antwan Maurice Pittman – charged in September in the death of 29-year-old Taraha Nicholson – is a "very strong person of interest" in Williams' death.

The remains of Nicholson, Jarniece Hargrove Taraha Nicholson, 29, Jackie Thorpe, 35, Ernestine Battle, 50, and Melody Wiggins, 29 were found within a 10-mile radius of one another in Edgecombe County.

The remains of Christine Marie Boone, 43, were found March 5 in a wooded area behind a trailer where Pittman lived in Halifax County in 2006.

A search warrant returned earlier this month indicates that investigators are also looking at Pittman in the deaths of at least four of those women.

Records show Pittman once lived near a wooded area off Seven Bridges Road.

A special task force of local, state and federal authorities has been investigating the deaths as well as the disappearances of two other Rocky Mount women.

Williams was last seen by a family member in Rocky Mount in spring 2008, authorities said. Williams was not officially reported missing, but concerns surfaced from persons who had not seen her in some time, authorities said.

The cause of Williams' death is not known at this time.

Anyone with information about the dead or missing women is asked to call the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office at 252-641-7911 or Rocky Mount Crime Stoppers at 252-977-1111.