Group to keep up billboards of missing, murdered women
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Relatives and friends of eight missing or slain Rocky Mount women held a fundraiser Saturday to keep up three electronic billboards aimed at raising awareness about the cases.
The families have formed the community group MOMS (Murdered or Missing Sisters). They used fish fries and motorcycle rides to raise money for the billboards, which show each woman individually and then all together. A question mark represents a sixth unidentified victim.
“Each of us has lost someone so we know how the other one feels,” said Tynatta James, whose sister, 50-year-old Ernestine Battle, was reported missing Feb. 2, 2008.
Battle’s remains were discovered on March 14, 2008, along Seven Bridges Road in Edgecombe County.
The bodies of Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31; Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28; Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29; and Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, were all found in the same area. A sixth body discovered in February has yet to be identified.
Each of the known victims was black, from Rocky Mount, had a history of drugs and had a history of run-ins with the law. Each was reported missing before their bodies were discovered in a rural area of Edgecombe County.
Three other women with similar descriptions and backgrounds – Christine Marie Boone, Renee Joyce Durham and Yolanda Renee Lancaster – remain missing.
The family members of the missing women have also joined MOMS for support.
“It was really bad for me, because my mother was the only person I could really talk to,” said Rashida Mitchell, Durham’s daughter.
Durham has been missing for two years. Mitchell said she still waits every day for her mother to come home.
“You get no closure from it,” Mitchell said.
Saturday’s chicken and barbecue fundraiser was held at Stith-Talbert Park, 729 Pennsylvania Ave.
Lamar Advertising gave the community group a significant discount on the billboards, which went up on July 28. The group paid $1,300 for all three signs. They will stay up for at least a month.
Two billboards are on U.S. Highway 301, and the other is near Winstead and Sunset avenues.