Local News

Slain, missing Rocky Mount women remembered during vigil

Posted April 25, 2010 11:45 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2010 4:25 p.m. EDT

— The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined the Rocky Mount community for a prayer vigil Sunday to bring attention to unsolved Edgecombe County slayings.

Several women with similar backgrounds have been found dead in the same area, and two more are missing.

National Guardsmen, police officers and firefighters searched earlier this month around Seven Bridges road near Whitakers, where the remains of five women have been found since August 2007.

The special task force search was at the request of Edgecombe Sheriff James Knight. He has said that investigators believe the remains of Yolanda Renee Lancaster and Joyce Renee Durham could be found in the same area.

Lancaster's mother, Juray Tucker, attended the prayer vigil Sunday where families comforted one another.

"I can relate to them. I can understand what they are going through, and they can understand what I am going through," Tucker said.

In all, the remains of eight women have been found over the past four years – seven in rural Edgecombe County and one in Halifax County.

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.

The most recent discovery came March 27, when investigators recovered the skeletal remains of Roberta Williams, 40, approximately 20 yards inside a wooded area off Seven Bridges Road. Williams was never reported missing but was last seen in spring 2008.

Lancaster, 37, was last seen Feb. 5, 2009; Durham, 47, was last seen in June 2007.

Authorities arrested Antwan Maurice Pittman in one of the cases, and a search warrant returned last month in Halifax County indicates that investigators are looking at him in at least five of the cases.

Crews have previously searched in a 1-mile radius of where each body was found, but the special task force search was the first massive effort of the entire 13-mile stretch of road.