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

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.


2 thoughts on “Rocky Mount Missing Women: Governor Perdue takes a flamethrower to the problem”

  1. My dear John
    I commend you for giving so much attention to the Rocky Mount murders, while everyone else was trying to ignore it. I know it’s a pisser when the governor finally responds to the demand, and tries to take credit for coming up with the idea herself. However, I am GLAD she’s responding!

    Politicians ALWAYS take the credit. That’s how they work. We know the truth is that when they finally do respond to something, it’s because of people like you who are calling attention to the issue, A delayed response is better than no response. Yes, it’s been going on for years, and it’s about freakin’ time an action has been taken.

    I don’t see how it’s gonna do any harm to have the National Guard out searching for remains, and sparing the efforts of private search groups, whose resources are so limited that they have to rely on volunteers. Fighting crime takes a lot of effort, and I’m sure you know that better than most. I don’t care who takes the credit, as long as it’s being done.

    You know in your heart you are doing your part, so let the politicians crow if they want to. Everyone who reads this blog knows you should get credit also, as well as others who are speaking out about it.

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