Charbonneau – Plus Ca Change

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In 1996 the Quebec government appointed Lawrence Poitras to lead a public inquiry into the Sûreté du Québec following accusations of corruption and evidence tampering within the force. Three years later Poitras submitted his 2,700 page report accusing the force of abusing its powers of arrest, being more concerned with protecting its image than investigating misconduct. Total cost to taxpayers? Over $20 million.

Did the Poitras Commission recommendations have any lasting influence? Judging by the release this week of the Charbonneau Commission’s report the answer is No.

On Tuesday Justice France Charbonneau submitted her 1,751-page report detailing how organized crime has infiltrated the Quebec construction industry, and how political forces such as elected officials, the ministry of transportation and the Quebec police force stood idle and let it happen, or in many cases participated in the collusion. The report – which cost taxpayers close to $45 million – states that there was the an “appearance” of corruption in Montreal and Laval, a “vulnerability” in contract-awarding by certain provincial departments, such as Transport Quebec, and that there were bodies, such as the Sûreté du Québec, that could have done something to address problems but did not.

Plus ca change.

GirlsDontHitchhike

And now we stand on the brink of another public inquiry into Canadian injustice, that of the missing and murdered indigenous women. A coalition of groups including family members, the First Nations Summit, and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is wisely recommending the Trudeau government exercise caution before jumping into an expensive and lengthy public process. Chiefly they recommend that officials consult with indigenous women, and learn from the lessons of the Oppal inquiry (the Missing Women Commission borne from the conviction of serial killer Robert Pickton) before again engaging in a “fundamentally flawed” process.

“We need to get to the root causes of why this is happening, so we can prevent this from happening,” said Lorelai Williams, whose aunt went missing in 1977, and whose cousin, missing since 1996, was among the women whose DNA was found on Pickton’s farm.

Indeed. Let’s start with the release yesterday by the social justice coalition’s report card on child poverty which says that 40 per cent of indigenous children in Canada live in poverty.  

And when B.C. Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone, ponders why there are still challenges to keeping indigenous girls and women safe along the Highway of Tears one wonders why he hasn’t consulted the the reams of public reports and documents – including recommendations – that have been filed over the past decade. Between 19 – 40 girls and women have gone missing or been murdered along the 450 mile stretch of highway over the last 42 years. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or even a gifted profiler – to conclude that this is not the work of a single person, the problem is  systemic. Judging from the report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, you might want to take a closer look at the very institution charged with protecting these women.

The investigation was triggered by a 2013 Human Rights Watch report titled Those Who Take Us Away a scathing document detailing such allegations as women being strip-searched by male police officers, an unwarranted attack by a police dog against a young girl and the 2012 rape of a homeless woman by four officers. Researchers heard allegations of sexual assault or rape in fully half of the 10 northern towns they visited, the report said.

 

An American friend recently remarked to me, “how can these things go on-and-on in your country?!”. Because they go on-and-on everywhere. I need look no further than my own back door – Rocky Mount, North Carolina – to see how the plight of a marginalized group – namely female black prostitutes – was completely ignored when women slowly started disappearing and turned up murdered over the course of 6 years in a town no bigger than Cornwall or Fredericton.

Bad people will always prey on the weak and vulnerable.  C’est la meme chose.

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Rocky Mount Women / GQ: No good deed…

GQ story on alleged serial killings splits opinions
By Brie Handgraaf
Rocky Mount Telegram

The people interviewed for a recent national story on Rocky Mount’s alleged serial killer case are divided on the published product.

Jackie Wiggins, mother of victim Jackie Nikelia ‘Nikki’ Thorpe, spoke with the author of the article in June’s issue of “Gentleman’s Quarterly” last fall and said she has mixed opinions about how it turned out.

“I was pleased with it as far as the publication about the girls and stuff, but his interview with this cabbie person was kind of shocking to me,” she said. “He came out with a whole lot of information that could have been useful earlier (in the investigation).”

She said she is reserving judgment on some of the quotes from officials used in the article.
“I think they said some things that now I hope they regret,” she said. “I guess the reporter reported as he heard it, but I’m waiting to hear their version of it.”

Rocky Mount Mayor David Combs was negatively portrayed in the article. Combs said the author took him out of context.

“Most people assume the mayor knows everything that is going on, but I’m not always aware of what the police department is working on,” he said. “He also made a comment about how I wasn’t at the candlelight vigil, but I really didn’t know about it. Nobody called me so I never knew about it.”

He added the article was skewed to overplay the race issue.

“I’m not sure I realized the direction he was going with it,” he said. “He wanted to paint a picture between Edgecombe and Nash counties, but I think, overall, that as a mayor, I look at it as all one city. I think because he is writing a book on race in the South, the whole article was based on race more than anything.”

Wiggins said she also believes the focus on race was dramatized.

“When he talked about the train tracks diving the blacks and whites, I think it could have been worded better,” she said. “I guess that was just his way of getting the point across, but our schools are integrated. I feel like some things were stretched.”

Rocky Mount councilman and local NAACP president Andre Knight said race does play into how much media attention, or lack thereof, the case has gotten.

“I think (the author) used race as a backdrop,” he said. “I think when it comes to African-American women and children (as victims of crime), they don’t get near the coverage other nationalities get in the media.”

Knight and Wiggins commended the author for his portrayal of the girls — not just how they died, but how they lived as well.

“He gave the women a real face. He talked about not just their addictions, but how these women were actually engaged in society. They were good people,” Knight said. “He was trying to actually put a face other than a mugshot on these women. I think he gave them some dignity as well.”

Wiggins actually was pleased with the relatively graphic portrayal of the victims’ deaths in the article.

“He was printing that to make people see just how tragic and demeaning the bodies were left,” she said. “He described what it was like. He put it like it was. I think the readers can see what we saw and how we felt.”

Knight said he hopes the national media attention will help the investigation.
“This case hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as it needs,” he said. “We don’t need this to go by the wayside. It is still very important to the families and the community.”
Combs said the attention will likely taper off.

“Other communities have had similar things happen and I hate to say this, but soon the national media moves on to something new,” he said. “Hopefully, someone will see this in the media and come forward with new information.

“I just hope people take it for what it is. It is a magazine article by someone trying to write a book.

“He took a lot of liberty along the way. It is what it is.”

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The Lost Girls of Rocky Mount

GQ’s a day late and a dollar short on this one. (well, 9 months at least to be precise)

What you will: They certainly know how to package a story:

The elderly black woman sits on her couch and rummages through a cardboard box until she finds the newspaper article—raggedy and faded like the town of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where her daughter Melody spent her final years. The headline reads, POLICE SEEK MORE CLUES IN MURDER.

“That’s what Melody’s son used to ask me all the time,” says the woman. Her weary voice assumes the pitch of a little boy: ” ‘Grandma, have they found out who did it to my mama?'”

And then she mimics a grandmother’s loving cadence: “I’d say, ‘Not yet. But the Lord knows who did it.'”

She falls silent. Then the woman points to a large photograph propped against the wall of her modest home. Below her grandson’s name and grinning face are the dates “October 15, 1997-November 15, 2008.” A tornado had engulfed their house that November night while she and her husband and her murdered daughter Melody’s son were all asleep. She remembers how the astonishing white light made her gasp, “Jesus…” Then she remembers her grandson flying away from her, as her daughter had three years earlier.

“Now he’s up there with her,” the grandmother murmurs as she looks down at the newspaper clipping on her lap. “Now he knows, too.”

The farmer who discovered the second body found off Seven Bridges Road, a few miles north of Rocky Mount, had been taking down his electric fence, and what drew him to the tree stump was a foreign odor. He initially mistook the carcass in the woods for that of a rotting deer. But then he saw the hands raised above the small round skull, as if waving for help. The skeletonized woman lay facedown, naked. Maggots and beetles dug into what was left of her leathery flesh.

When Corneta Battle saw the news that day in March 2008, she knew that her prayers—Lord, you’ve got to show me where my sister is. Let me dream it. Let me see it—had finally been answered. Corneta called the authorities. They asked her to swab her mother’s mouth for DNA. After the tests came back indicating a 99.9 percent probability of kinship, the police showed Corneta the photographs taken out at Seven Bridges Road. Corneta Battle looked at them and nodded silently. Though there was almost nothing left of her sister, she still recognized Ernestine.

For almost six weeks, Ernestine Battle had been missing. It was well known that she walked the streets of Rocky Mount all night, selling her body to support her crack habit, that she had stopped taking care of her two young children, that she had been in and out of jail for the past nine years on drug- and prostitution-related charges, that when her family gave her food, she would trade it on the streets for a rock of cocaine. Her disappearance was nonetheless alarming for two reasons. The first was that Ernestine, no matter how strung out, always managed to stay in touch with her family. The second was that in the past five years, several other African-American women who wandered the streets of Rocky Mount at night had never been seen alive again.

Among the disappeared, Ernestine had known Nikki Thorpe best. Nikki lived down the street from her. And on her way to the park to score some drugs, Ernestine would wave to Nikki’s mother sitting on the porch drinking a Pepsi and call out, “Hey, Miss Jackie! Nikki there?” Or “C’mon, Miss Jackie, I know you’ve got another cold Pepsi.” As with Ernestine—who once had a respectable job with the cable company and took pains to do herself up, almost like a fashion model—there had been something to Nikki before all this. Nikki grew up playing football with the boys in the projects on Stokes Street. She’d been a cheerleader in high school. She wrote poetry and spent entire evenings at the O 64 Bingo Parlor. Nikki’s talent for braiding hair was highly regarded by the crack dealers, who sometimes gave her a rock in exchange for a hair job instead of a blow job.

Then, in the summer of 2007, Nikki’s became the first body left to rot away alongside Seven Bridges Road. So little remained of her, or of Ernestine the following year, that the pathologists who examined the corpses could not determine a cause of death. All that could be said with certainty was that the Rocky Mount women had died far from home—like Denise Williams, whose bloated body was discovered floating in a swamp southeast of town in 2003; like Melody Wiggins, found in the woods in May 2005; and perhaps like Christine Boone and Joyce Renee Durham, who in 2006 and 2007, respectively, simply vanished from the streets.

Someone was apparently taking drug-addicted black women from the drab streets of Rocky Mount—women who were not well connected or captivating to the media—and ending their sad lives and gambling that it would not matter.

Six years running, someone’s bet was paying off.

The cabbie believed that the someone was like him. Someone who knew the girls. Someone they would feel comfortable with. Let their guard down with. Jump in a car with, no problem.

He’d been driving these girls—Nikki, Ernestine, Denise, pretty much all of them—for years. Sometimes the cabbie (who asked not to be named) would drop them off at one of the grubby motels on Highway 301, where a john had bought them a room and where they’d turn tricks and smoke crack till checkout time. Then the cabbie would get a call on his cell and pick them up. In their state of dubious afterglow, he would see them strung out beyond comprehension, bruised and cut up, their clothes reeking from having been worn days in a row. Oftentimes they had no money despite their long evening of work, and the cabbie would give them a few bucks or drop them off at a church where they could get a hot meal.

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Rocky Mount Missing Women Memorial Service

Well, it’s a start. Though many are crying, too little too late:

Memorial service staged to unite community

By J. Eric Eckard
Rocky Mount Telegram
Sunday, April 25, 2010

At a Sunday night event set to honor the victims of a suspected serial killer linked to at least 10 deaths over the past seven years in the Twin Counties, Jackie Wiggins was supposed to talk about the purpose of the tribute.

She looked out at the crowd of about 150 people gathered at Church of God of Deliverance in Rocky Mount and said she’d let the attendance speak for her.

“The fact that you all gathered with us — that is our purpose,” said Wiggins, who daughter, Jackie “Nikki” Thorpe, was one of the victims in the investigation that includes local, state and federal agencies.

Wiggins also is the president of Parents and Relatives of the Missing and Murdered, a group organized in 2009 and made up of the victims’ families and friends.

The Sunday night tribute, put on by PROMM, featured the Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP. Barber gathered representatives from law enforcement, victims’ families and the City Council together on stage to let “the whole world know we are united.”

“I’m more than moved by the courage of these parents and family members,” said Barber, who stood with Andre Knight, city councilman and president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Barber’s sermon focused on the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with oil. Barber likened the sinful woman in the Bible with the victims in this case, most of whom were linked to drug use and prostitution before their deaths.
“But they’re still human beings, and tonight, we dignify them,” Barber said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re ladies of society or ladies of the street, violence and murder is wrong.”

Barber also talked about Maya Angelou, former poet laureate, who worked briefly as a prostitute as a teenager. Barber said Angelou was able to rise above her stint in that life, while the missing and murdered in the Rocky Mount will never reach their potential.

“We don’t know what these women could have become,” he said.

During the two-hour ceremony, family members lighted a candle for each of the 10 murder victims and two missing women who are feared dead. They spoke briefly about their loved ones before lighting the candles.

Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight and Rocky Mount Police Chief John Manley also spoke during the event, ensuring the victims’ families that investigators are taking the deaths and the investigation seriously. About a year ago, the sheriff announced a task force investigation into the similar deaths of several Rocky Mount women.

“To the families, your cries have not been unheard,” Knight said. “Things have happened during the investigation that we haven’t been able to share.

“Although we couldn’t share, it didn’t mean I didn’t care.”

Law enforcement officers still are working the case, Knight said, and local investigators are expected to meet with FBI officials today “about some things that have come up.”

Antwan Maurice Pittman has been charged with one of the victim’s deaths — Taraha Nicholson — and authorities said he’s a person of interest in at least five of the other murders. The 31-year-old Rocky Mount man is charged with first-degree murder in Nicholson’s death.

Pittman, a registered sex offender, was arrested in September, and authorities said his DNA was found on Nicholson’s body.

So far, the bodies of Nicholson, Thorpe, Jarniece Hargrove, Christine Boone, Ernestine Battle, Denise Williams, Elizabeth Smallwood, Roberta Williams, Melody Wiggins and Travis Harrison have been found in wooded areas northeast of Rocky Mount. Two others — Yolanda “Snap” Lancaster and Joyce Renee Durham — are reported missing.
Two weeks ago, 100 N.C. National Guard soldiers helped law enforcement officials and volunteers search for victims along Seven Bridges Road, where five women already had been found.

“We can’t write these cases off,” Manley said Sunday night. “Any one of them could have been any one of us. And every one of them has value and meaning.”

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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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