UNC Chapel Hill: Physician, Heal Thyself!

unc

This week two local issues concerning criminal justice hit home for me in a very personal way.

On Tuesday, my ex-wife called me with a warning about our weekly child drop-off: “They’re on their way over, but be careful… we just got in an argument and the topic was rape.”

The subject was the recent allegations by students – current and former – at UNC Chapel Hill that the school administration has done little to protect victims of sexual assault, and indeed have gone to great lengths to cover up incidents of rape and sexual assault on campus.   My ex-wife argued that one student in question, who took it on face value that the school would comprehensively handle the investigation into her assault, was under some personal obligation to go to local law enforcement to report the incident. My daughters’ point was that the school was obliged to fully protect the student, victims of sexual assault are vulnerable, and the student was depending on the school to act in her best interest. I argued that I have been sitting on the fence about this issue because I really didn’t feel I had enough information to make a rational conclusion. My back-of-the-napkin take on it is that, by my count from what I read in the newspapers, there has been a problem with sexual violence on the UNC campus spanning at least a decade, but that the problem more than likely reached back much further than that; from my experience in these matters if UNC /Chapel Hill have a campus sexual violence problem,  the issue is systemic, and it is a very good thing that Federal authorities from the U.S. Department of Education are now being called in to review the matter.

This issue extends – at the very least – as far back to the rape and murder of Jeanne Clery in 1986 in a campus residence hall at Lehigh University. The case lead to the establishment of the Clery Act which requires colleges and universities to annually disclose campus security policies and campus crime statistics. The Act is monitored by the U.S. Department of Education, and those institutions that fail to comply risk losing Federal student financial aid programs (yes, a VERY big deal).

It is no secret that in the Cleary era many schools have attempted to game the system by under-reporting campus crime stats (Jerry Sandusky / Penn State), and that is exactly the issue at UNC Chapel Hill, and why the stakes are so high in this matter. Do colleges fudge numbers? Of course they do. In my own personal experience, I don’t have to be a statistician to notice that a simple Google scan of newspaper archives for the words “Lennoxville” “sexual assault” “Campus” “Champlain college” will come up with exactly two hits; my sister’s case, and a case at  Bishop’s college that police later claimed didn’t take place. 40 years, and exactly two incidents of sexual assault? That’s quite a record.

The second thing that happened this week was that an article appear in the UNC campus newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel that was ostensibly a “where are we now?” piece on the 5th anniversary of the Eve Carson murder, but really was about blaming the City of Durham for all of Chapel Hill’s problems.  That the piece by student writer Chelsey Dulaney is incendiary and mis-informed is just me being polite.  And I strongly disagree with UNC senior associate dean, Chris Roush’s brush-off assessment that, because the paper is student-run, it is merely a “learning lab”: all the more reason for responsible editorial oversight, isn’t oversight at the crux of all of UNC Chapel Hill’s current problems?

As a resident of Chapel Hill and 15-year proud employee with the City of Durham my first reaction was to weigh into the fray, even though that action might have caused me some personal trauma (I rarely discuss where I work on this blog). Fortunately I didn’t have to. In this morning’s Herald Sun the Durham Police Chief and Mayor did such a fine job of defending the Bull City that my actions and words are not neccessary.   My observation – and this is supported with the hard data presented in the police chief’s crime report delivered to City Council on Monday, March 4th (a meeting at which I was present) – is that Part I Crime in Durham has been drastically reduced in the last 10-years while the population has doubled. This is thanks to a police force and a community that understands that a better quality of life is everybody’s business, and we all contribute to the solution. As Mayor Bell says, “are we satisfied? No I don’t think we will every be satisfied.”. But we are hopeful.

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Eve Carson killer, Laurence Lovette Jr. to be resentenced

I would call myself a  liberal on social issues, a fiscal conservative and – given my past experience – probably a conservative regarding criminal justice: and I say, everybody relax. Laurence Lovette Jr. will receive an appropriate sentence for the crimes he committed:

Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Laurence Lovette Jr., one of two men convicted in the death of former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson, will be resentenced because his sentence of life without parole was too harsh for someone under 18 at the time of the crime.

Lovette, 22, was sentenced Dec. 20, 2011, to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree armed robbery in the 2008 shooting death of Carson.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision after Lovette’s conviction in which the court held that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a minor at the time of a crime violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The resulting change of law in North Carolina applies retroactively to Lovette’s case, the Court of Appeals said Tuesday.

A date for Lovette’s resentencing has not been set, but Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall it could happen within the next three months.

Woodall said the Appeals Court’s decision was not unexpected and that he was pleased with its findings that Lovette received a fair trial.

Lovette could still face a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, Woodall said. He could also face life with the possibility of parole.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour also sentenced Lovette to 100-129 months in prison on the kidnapping charge and 77-102 months on the robbery charge – sentences which were to run consecutive to the life prison term.

During closing arguments of Lovette’s trial, prosecutors said Carson endured a nearly two-hour ordeal in which Lovette, who was 17 at the time, and Demario Atwater kidnapped her from her home and drove her in her SUV to two ATMs, where Lovette withdrew $700 from her bank account.

The pair then drove Carson to a neighborhood near UNC’s campus, shot her five times and left her body in the street.

Surveillance video from a sorority house put Lovette and Atwater about a block away from Carson’s home minutes before she was abducted. Security images from an ATM showed Lovette withdrawing money while Atwater held Carson hostage in the back seat, and Lovette made statements to friends that implicated him in the crime.

“This was so senseless,” Woodall told reporters after the verdict. “I’ve heard and read about crimes that were brutal and meaningless, and there’s never been one more brutal and meaningless than this crime.”

Atwater, 26, who is serving two life prison terms, avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to state and federal charges in the case.

Unlike Atwater, Lovette was ineligible for the death penalty under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the execution of individuals under 18 years old at the time of a capital crime.

Lovette is also charged in the Jan. 18, 2008, shooting death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, a mechanical engineering student from India, who was found dead inside his Durham apartment,

According to an arrest warrant, Mahato’s cell phone helped Durham police link Lovette to the crime when he was arrested on March 13, 2008, in Carson’s death.

Lovette has not gone to trial in Mahato’s death. A status hearing is set for Feb. 18 in Durham County Superior Court.

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Baby let’s move cause you know that the light here really hurts my eyes

If you will indulge me further, I will offer a few more comments on April Wine, and the death of bassist Jim Clench.  Not too much, I don’t mean to be exploitative. But it’s on my mind… I’ll offer up some further thoughts, then I really must be going. This is a brief return, but I am not blogging again. I really have nothing to say, and I’d rather live my life than write about it.

So…

I grew up in Pierrefonds in the 70s, the West Island of Montreal. At that time two types of celebrities lived in the West Island; Montreal Canadiens and Myles Goodwyn. If I recall Marc Tardiff, Savard and Dicky Duff all lived somewhere in that area. But I remember specifically where Myles lived. It was just off Fredmir… I think the street was Clearview. On Saturday mornings I used to take my bike out and ride by to watch Myles wash his red or orange Corvette.

I remember the first records we all bought as kids; Theresa’s first was Dark Side of the Moon, mine was Alice Cooper, Billion Dollar Babies, Andre’s was April Wine, On Record.

April Wine made an early appearance in the Montreal pop music show, Like Young. I believe they performed Dark Side of the Moon and Could Have Been A Lady. We loved that.

Electric Jewels is the only April Wine Album where the majority of songs are co-written and co-sung  by Goodwyn and Clench.  In some ways I wished they would have continued in this way, I would have liked to have seen where they would have taken it.

After Oowatanite was released fire alarm bells began to disappear from school hallways all across the West Island; every drummer had to have one. I stole mine from Riverdale High off Sources blvd.

I was always under the impression that Jimmy sang Slow Poke; it was Myles. I loved the Clench tune, Baby Done Got Some Soul. When I asked Jim about it he said it was a “knock off”. It was an instrumental he and Gary Moffet worked out in the studio while Myles was busy with something else. Jim added the lyrics later.

For many years Lady and Drop Your Guns were staples in the many bands my brother played guitar in in and around the West Island. When First Glance came out my brother and I devoured it; by this time we were very good musicians – we jammed together in our garage on Roller, Ready for Love, Hot on The Wheels of Love, Right Down to it, etc…

I believe that is Myles Goodwyn’s son on the Attitude album cover

This is good: April Wine made a comeback in 1993. There first video was That’s Love. The video was directed and produced by two friends of mine. Unwittingly I was the costumer on the video. I was working at the Costume House in Toronto. I let my friends in after hours, and they essentially stole all the costumes for that video.

On playing with Jim:

It was hard anticipating what he would want to hear. For the most part I learned live versions from their 2003 Super-Ex concert in Ottawa. It was logical that this would be the sound that would be most familiar to him. But Jim could fool you; for Drop Your Guns and Lady he specifically wanted the versions from On Record (it was good that those versions were pretty much ingrained in my psyche.)

Skill: let’s be honest, I am a very good drummer, but I was essentially acting (playing the part of a drummer). My brother was and IS the real deal. He knew those solos from Oowatanite and Weeping Widow cold.

Unknown to anyone, I had also learned the rhythm guitar to all the songs. I figured I’d squeeze in that way if they found a better drummer; that’s how much I wanted this to happen.

The sound of Jim’s bass was so incredible thick… Mr. thunder-picker. He wasn’t up to speed but you knew when he got there you’d better be on your shit.

The set also included Bad Side of the Moon, I’d forgotten that.  I would have wanted to include Lady Run Lady Hide, but it would have been difficult to pull off.

Jim told some funny story about being detained at the American border for hours. It was only the fact that Jerry Mercer had been in the current month’s issue of Modern Drummer and had a copy of the magazine with him that saved them from extended immigration limbo.

Our parents were not pleased with this sudden turn of events. At the time my brother was between jobs in one of the worst economies in 80 years, we both had children and families. That two forty-somethings would throw it all down the tubes for a rock-n-roll has-been was poor judgement in their minds. Hey! We were mad geniuses! Strangely my ex-wife was suspiciously supportive; either she saw it as typical bad behavior or she was building a sole custody case.

I have wanted to write about all of this for some time, but my brother swore me to secrecy. That’s his way, and he certainly didn’t want to give Jim any unwanted exposure. But now? What does it matter.

That’s all I got. If you check out the comments from my previous entry, you will see a nice post from Brian Greenway.

“Life don’t wait if you hesitate, come on quit wasting time”

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Rocky Mount Missing Women: Governor Perdue takes a flamethrower to the problem

Forgive me for the tracheal vomiting: North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue has called in the National Guard to aid in the search for the remaining 2 missing women from the total of 11-ish persons who have turned up dead in Edgecombe County.

This reminds me of the dangers of overkill. When I was a kid I often trampled my mother’s flower garden, then tired to fix the problem by overcompensating: I once replaced her petunias with a maple tree – earnest, but conspicuous.

For all my criticisms of the Surete du Quebec, I have always admired their cunning dealing with problems. When I brought to their attention that they were in need of a cold case squad, did they acknowledge the problem? Hardly. They initiated a cold case squad, then pretended the idea was theirs all along, even going so far as to suggest that such a unit had been in place for years before the public was screaming for the need…

… gotta admire the balls.

Which brings us back to the case of the alleged Rocky Mount Serial Killer. You don’t just call in the National Guard without some implicit acknowledgment of the associated guilt: yada-yada-yada these were minority victims… yada-yada-yada we did nothing FOR YEARS until the public finally caught on to the obvious negligence of our inaction.

I leave it to you, dear reader, to fill in the rest. Here is the article from today’s News & Observer:

N.C. National Guard to aid in search for two missing Edgecombe women

BY THOMASI MCDONALD – STAFF WRITER
RALEIGH — Calling for a “more boots on the ground” approach, Gov. Bev Perdue has activated the North Carolina National Guard to help the Edgecombe County Task Force search for two missing women, the governor’s office announced today.

Edgecombe County Sheriff James L. Knight requested the assistance, according to a press statement from Perdue’s office.

Knight first contacted over the weekend, Rueben Young, the state’s secretary of crime control and public safety, asking for the National Guard’s help with finding if the remains of two other woman who have been reported missing, Yolonda Reee “Snap” Lancaster, 37, and Joyce Renee Durham, 26, are among the the bodies of five women who have been found in the woods off Seven Bridges Road in Northern Edgecombe County. Two were found not far away. A third was found near Scotland Neck.

Lancaster’s family has not seen her since March 2008. Durham was reported missing in June of 2007.

The guardsmen will be searching around Seven Bridges road near Whitakers, where the remains of five women have been found since August 2007.

“Having more boots on the ground will help law enforcement agencies cover a larger area and speed up search efforts,” Perdue said.

“We started to get more boots on the ground this morning,” Chrissy Pearson, a governor’s spokeswoman said today.

The National Guard provided about 100 soldiers who searched today for Lancaster and Durham. The soldiers are from the 1132nd and 514th military police companies, headquartered out of Rocky Mount and Greenville respectively. The task force, which has local, state and federal authorities, will be searching throughout the week.

In all, eight bodies have been found.

The skeletal remains of the latest victim, Roberta Williams, 40, was found March 27, in the woods off Seven Bridges Road by a group of all-terrain vehicle riders.

It’s not clear how Williams was found, but sheriff’s investigators are treating it as a suspicious death.

Earlier that month, on March 5, authorities found the remains of Christine Marie Boone, 43, in a wooded area in Scotland Neck in Halifax County.

After Williams’ body was found, Knight said his office notified the families of Lancaster and Durham.

But Williams had not been reported missing. When investigators probed her disappearance they obtained her medical records and the state medical examiner’s office used the information to identify her body, Knight said.

A task force consisting of the sheriff’s office, Rocky Mount police and the State Bureau of Investigation, began working together in June to determine if the women’s deaths were related and possibly the work of a serial killer.

In September. a grand jury indicted Antwan Maurice Pittman in the slaying of Taraha Shenice Nicholson, one of the women whose bodies have been found in the rural section of the county. Authorities have not said if Pittman would be charged with any of the other deaths.

The first victim, Melody Wiggins, 29, was found by police May 29, 2005 on Noble Mill Pond Road.

The partially skeletal, nude remains of Jackie Thorpe, 35, were found Aug. 17, 2007 in a trash heap behind a burned out crack house off Seven Bridges Road.

On March 13, 2008, the remains of Ernestine Battle, 50, were found facedown in the woods. Her remains were unclothed.

The skeletal remains of Jarneice “Sunshine” Hargrove, 31, were discovered June 29 by a migrant farmer working in a field.

The remains of Elizabeth Jane Smallwood, 33, were discovered in February of last year by Rocky Mount city employees and state prison inmates in a wooded area on Melton Road.

All of the women were African American and living on the margins of society with a history of drugs or prostitution and had disappeared. Family members and friends have said that some of the women knew each other.

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Rocky Mount Missing Women: What we already knew.

Two disappointments cloaked as victories this week (the other I’ll get to shortly)…

The first is the discovery of remains in Edgecombe County last Saturday that have now been positively identified as those of Roberta Williams. I have avoided commenting on this recent newsoid for fear of flogging the Rocky Mount Missing Women story into the ground. My contempt for how authorities have mishandled these cases is hardly a secret, so let’s just spell it out:

Blatant racism… 11 black people are murdered or go missing in an area the size of a postage stamp and for nearly a decade no one manages to give a tinker’s cuss about the matter. Yes, deja shades of Robert Pickton and the Vancouver downtown Eastside murders all over again. It only took the Olympic games for B.C. to recover from that tragedy, so what do you think is in store for the tiny impoverished East Carolina region of Rocky Mount? I will tell you: the trauma of endless fear, self-loathing and humiliation.

It is no balm that Rocky Mount chief of police has finally… glacially… come forward and stated what has been obvious to my five-year-old child all along:  “It’s clear that we are dealing with a suspected serial killer.”.

Thank you chief, you can go back to whatever busy work has occupied you for the last decade (perhaps there’s an abandoned vehicle that needs towing?). This week NC Wanted anchor Gerald Owens finally grew a pair and boldly asked of the chief, “how many more victims are there?”. Thanks for showing up Gerald, where have you been? This isn’t about giving your Kodak image the perfect frame for tragedy: this is a real story, with real families that are suffering: you should have been in the game years ago.

While we all sit and wait for this to play out (ya, as if it’s some kind of parlor game), the prime suspect, Antwan Pittman has been sitting in jail for 8 months. What are authorities waiting for? For a gun to literally smoke? Meanwhile victims’ families continue to be traumatized daily by the mistakes and missteps of an uncaring and insensitive media and justice system.

Let’s not forget that in the midst of this madness Newsweek got it right 5 months ago:

“For the families who just want to locate their daughters or bring closure to their murders, the investigation has been a long, drawn-out process. Tucker speaks about her daughter in the past tense, quickly catches herself, and shifts to the present tense, emphasizing her commitment to finding her daughter. “As far as the investigation goes, I just hope they continue to do the best they can to put closure to the missing girls and the girls that have been found,” Tucker says. “Whatever it is, we are here waiting.”

“Regardless of drug addiction or other problems, that still doesn’t give a person the right to kill another,” says Knight. “If we can give a terrorist a day in court, we can get these women justice.””

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Skeletal remains found in Edgecombe County

BATTLEBORO, N.C. — Skeletal remains were found Saturday off Seven Bridges Road, between Battleboro and Whitakers in Edgecombe County. This is same rural area where the remains of several Rocky Mount women were found dead over the past four years.

Around 1:23 p.m., four-wheeler riders found the skeletal remains approximately 20 yards inside the woods, a news release from the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s office states.

The bodies of Taraha Nicholson, 29, Jarneice Hargrove, 31, Jackie Thorpe, 35, Ernestine Battle, 50, and Melody Wiggins, 29, were all found in fields within a 10-mile radius of one another in Edgecombe County. The body of Christine Boone, 43, was found this month about 20 miles away in Scotland Neck.

Each woman was black, reported missing and had a history of drug use or prostitution. Family members and friends have said that many knew each other.

A special task force of local, state and federal authorities has been investigating the deaths, as well as the disappearances of two other Edgecombe County women, Yolanda Lancaster and Joyce Durham.

Knight said the missing women’s families were notified Saturday about the human remains discovery.
“My nerves are just shot,” said Winston Kemp, Durham’s stepfather.

Durham has been missing since June 2007. Kemp said authorities told him that they don’t yet know the identification or the cause of death for the skeletal remains found Saturday.

“Is it her or is it not? I don’t know,” he said.

Lancaster has been missing since February 2009. Authorities said both missing women have similar profiles as the other Rocky Mount women and that they are considering a possible connection.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the slain Rocky Mount women is ongoing.

Authorities have charged Antwan Maurice Pittman, 31, with first-degree murder in Nicholson’s death. But they have been relatively quiet about whether he might be suspected in any of the other deaths.

Records show Pittman also once lived near a wooded area off Seven Bridges Road where remains of three of the slain women were found.

A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper also arrested Pittman for driving while impaired and driving with a revoked license after finding him along Seven Bridges Road on April 25, 2009 – that same day family members last reported seeing Hargrove, according to the warrant.

Hargrove’s remains were found on June 29, 2009, about 200 yards from where the trooper said Pittman was parked.
Thorpe’s remains were found Aug. 17, 2007, in the same area along Seven Bridges Road. She had been reported missing in May 2007.

Battle’s remains were found in the same area on March 14, 2008. She had been missing since February 2008.

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

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Rocky Mount Missing Women: Finally

Search warrant connects Rocky Mount murder suspect to five slain women

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — A man already charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Rocky Mount woman is also believed to be involved in the deaths of four other women with similar profiles, according to a search warrant obtained by WRAL News on Monday.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation searched a former residence of Antwan Maurice Pittman after his arrest in the strangling death of Taraha Shenice Nicholson.

Pittman was charged with first-degree murder in Nicholson’s death. Her remains were found on March 7, 2009, on Marriott Road in Edgecombe County, two weeks after the 29-year-old was reported missing. DNA found on Nicholson’s body matched that of Pittman, according to the search warrant.

Probable cause exists to believe Pittman was also involved in the deaths of Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, Ernestine Battle, Jarniece Latonya Hargrove and Christine Marie Boone, according to the search warrant.

Records show Pittman also once lived near a wooded area off Seven Bridges Road, near Rocky Mount, where remains of two of the women were found.

The warrant describes how North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper J.J. Scott, responding to a report of an accident in a ditch along Seven Bridges Road, found Pittman asleep in the driver’s seat of a vehicle on April 25, 2009.

That same day, family members reported last seeing Hargrove. Her remains were found on June 29, 2009, about 200 yards from where the trooper said Pittman was parked.

Pittman had dirt on his boots and his pants were unzipped, according to the warrant. He was arrested and charged with driving while impaired, according to the Highway Patrol.

Thorpe’s remains were found Aug. 17, 2007, in the same area along a Seven Bridges Road, between Battleboro and Whitakers in Edgecombe County. She had been reported missing in May 2007.

Battle’s remains were found in the same area on March 14, 2008. She had been missing since February  2008.

Pittman grew up and worked on a farm near the vicinity of where those three bodies were found in Edgecombe County, according to the search warrant.

Halifax County sheriff’s deputies found Boone’s remains March 5 in a wooded area behind another known Pittman residence, 98 Nasturtium Lane in Scotland Neck.

After the discovery, authorities searched a home at that location on Friday.

According to the search warrant, authorities believe Boone might have been killed at the home. DNA testing was done at the home, according to the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.

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Rocky Mount Missing Women: Attention must be paid

Another pointless article in the Raleigh News & Observer. What, was this written by the Associated press? You’d think they were doing a national news roundup for all the care and detail they don’t give the piece.

Hello? News & Observer? This isn’t some regional news bon-bon, it’s the story of eight nine people who have turned up dead less than 30 miles from your outskirts. This is likely the work of a serial killer? Raleigh? this is your problem too.

News and Observer, March 13, 2010

Skeletal remains found a week ago in a wooded area in Scotland Neck have been identified as a Rocky Mount woman missing for nearly four years.

Christine Marie Boone, 43, was last seen Aug. 25, 2006, in Rocky Mount by a family member. Law enforcement officials recovered her remains in a wooded area behind a vacant mobile home at 98 Nasturtium Lane, Scotland Neck, and her identity was confirmed by the Greenville medical examiner.

Antwan Maurice Pittman lived in that mobile home in 2006, according to a Rocky Mount Police Department news release. But, on Friday, Pittman had not been charged with Boone’s death.

Pittman is currently being held at the Edgecombe County jail, arrested in September and charged with the strangulation death of Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28, one of six homicides dating back to 2005. Boone is the seventh.

All of the victims were black women, most with troubled pasts of drug abuse and prostitution.

Five of the bodies were recovered from a swampy, wooded area in rural Edgecombe County, about 60 miles northeast of Raleigh. The sixth woman’s body was discovered about seven miles from where the others were found.

A task force of local, state and federal law enforcement officials was formed last June to investigate the possibility of a serial killer.

Two women who fit the profile of those slain remain missing.

Joyce Renee Durham, 46, was reported missing in June 2007. Yolanda Renee “Snap” Lancaster, 37, was reported missing in March 2008.

Anyone with information about Boone’s death should contact Halifax County Sheriff Jeff Frazier or Major Bruce Temple at 252-583-8201. Callers also may contact Twin County Crime Stoppers at 252-977-1111 or the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office at 252-641-7911.

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Rocky Mount Serial Killer: another victim found

Police found the remains of Christine Marie Boone behind a residence once occupied by Antwan Maurice Pittman. That brings the total to 9 bodies found in the area surrounding the small town of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Explain to me how police do not have yet enough evidence to charge Antwan Maurice Pittman? Just how badly have police botched these cases?

ROCKY MOUNT (WTVD) — Police say they’ve identified skeletal remains found in a wooded area behind 98 Nasturtium Lane in Scotland Neck on March 5 as 43-year-old Christine Marie Boone.

She was reported missing to the Rocky Mount Police Department on January 16, 2007 and was last seen on August 25, 2006 at 801 S. Grace Street in Rocky Mount by a family member. Police said the address at 98 Nasturtium Lane is a vacant mobile home presently, but they said Antwan Maurice Pittman lived there in 2006. Pittman was arrested in September 2009 for death of Taraha Nicholson and is in the custody of the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Department.

He has not been charged in Boone’s death and police said the investigation is ongoing.

Six other women found slain

Pittman is just charged with the single murder. Police have not called him a suspect in six other deaths.

In addition to Nicholson, Ernestine Battle, 50, Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, Melody Wiggins, 29, and Jarneice Hargrove, 31, were all found between 2005 and early this year in the same rural area outside Rocky Mount.

The body of the first woman – Wiggins – was found in May 2005 on Noble Mill Pond Road. She’d been beaten and stabbed.

Thorpe was found in August 2007. Her head and an arm had been cut off.

In February, skeletal remains that have yet to be identified were found, and then Battle was found in March, 2008 in some woods. The medical examiner said it was not possible to determine a cause of death.

Nicholson was found in March, and Hargrove was found in June by a farmer.

Two other women are missing.

Yolanda Lancaster, 37, and Joyce Renee Durham, 46, have not been heard from by their families for months.

The victims all had similar backgrounds. All were linked to drug abuse and possible prostitution.

Investigators have refused to speculate on whether the killings are the work of a serial killer.

Public’s help needed

Police say they need the public’s assistance in providing any information they may have. Anyone with information in the Boone death investigation is asked to contact Halifax County Sheriff Jeff Frazier or Major Bruce Temple at (252) 583-8201.

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John Edwards: an interesting perspective

Here’s an interesting perspective. This is a Google photo of my former house at 500 Robin Road (the red “A”:  where they thought Debbie Key was murdered (read Bad Dream House):

That monstrosity to the left? That would be former Senator John Edwards’ spread. A house is not a home?  I saw him a couple of weeks ago at the Harris Teeter buying his own groceries. Things change.

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