Search warrant links suspect to 5 deaths

Antwan Pittman is charged with killing Taraha Shenice Nicholson.

March 15, 2010 9:15:06 PM PDT
A man accused of killing a woman whose decomposing body was found dumped in a rural field is a suspect in four similar slayings, a state homicide investigator said. State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent E.D. Smith makes the connection in a search warrant filed Friday and released Monday.

The document authorized homicide investigators to look for evidence at a Halifax County mobile home where Antwan Maurice Pittman, 31, once lived.

Pittman was charged in September with first-degree murder in the strangulation death of Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 29. Pittman's DNA matched semen recovered from Nicholson's body, which was found in March 2009.

The bodies of Nicholson, Jarneice Hargrove, Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, and Ernestine Battle were all dumped in fields along a rural stretch of road outside Rocky Mount.

A State Highway Patrol trooper found Pittman asleep in a car on the day Hargrove disappeared about 200 yards away from where her body was discovered about a month later.

Then investigators found skeletal remains of Christine Boone, 43, in Scotland Neck in Halifax County earlier this month about 20 miles away near a mobile home where Pittman lived when the woman disappeared in 2006, Smith said in seeking the search warrant to comb the trailer.

Officials say they think Pittman may have killed Boone in the mobile home.

They say all five women had a history of drug abuse and prostitution in the Rocky Mount area.

Authorities have also searched for hair, fiber, jewelry, photos and fingerprints of women who have been killed in Edgecombe County, or who are still missing.

Pittman currently remains in jail.

The SBI has been working with local police and sheriff's departments since announcing in June that there had been a series of unsolved slayings of black women in and near Rocky Mount. Boone had been one of three other Rocky Mount women whose disappearances were part of the investigation.

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