Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's Pickton Redux, but South of the 49th



Families of missing, murdered women hold fundraiser

Posted: Today at 5:30 p.m. Updated: Today at 6:49 p.m.
Rocky Mount, N.C. — Relatives and friends of eight missing or slain Rocky Mount women held another fundraiser Saturday to keep the names and faces of these women in the public eye. The families have formed the community group MOMS (Murdered or Missing Sisters). They have held fish fries, motorcycle rides and other events to raise money for three electronic billboards, which show each woman individually and then all together. A question mark represents a sixth unidentified victim.Minnie Jones, whose sister Christine Marie Boone went missing in 2006, said the goal is make the “public aware that this is going on in the city of Rocky Mount.” “We really need to know what is going on with these women,” Jones said Saturday. Boone, 46, was last seen at 801 S. Grace Street in August 2006. Family members said they filed missing persons reports three separate times. In addition to Boone, two other women – Renee Joyce Durham and Yolanda Renee Lancaster – remain missing. The three women have similar backgrounds as five other women whose bodies have been found.The remains of Jarniece Latonya Hargrove, 31, Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, Ernestine Battle, 50, Melody LaShae Wiggins, 29, and Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28, were found in a rural area of Edgecombe County over the past four years.Each woman was black, from Rocky Mount and had a history of drug use and run-ins with the law. Each was reported missing before their bodies were discovered.A sixth body discovered in February has yet to be identified.

The group said they may not be able to afford to keep the billboards up and, instead, may make a public service announcement.

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.

Two billboards are on U.S. Highway 301, and the other is near Winstead and Sunset avenues.
Anyone with information about the cases is asked to call the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office at 252-641-7911.

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