Seventh body found in Edgecombe identified

Roberta Williams was found March 27, 2010 by people riding four wheelers off Seven Bridges Road, between Battleboro and Whitakers in Edgecombe County.
March 31, 2010 4:17:11 PM PDT
Police say skeletal remains found March 27 have been identified as 40-year-old Roberta Williams. She's now the seventh woman whose body was found dumped in the Edgecombe/Halifax County area in the last four years.

People riding four wheelers off Seven Bridges Road, between Battleboro and Whitakers in Edgecombe County found Williams about 20 yards inside a tree line. It's the same roughly 10-mile wide area where the bodies of several Rocky Mount women were found.

The Rocky Mount Police Department and Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office said in a joint news release that the Medical Examiner's Office in Greenville, NC identified Williams, but was not able to immediately provide a cause of death.

Williams was last seen in the spring of 2008 by a family member in Rocky Mount. She was never reported missing because she was considered to be a homeless person.

Other deaths

Williams is the seventh woman found in the same area about an hour's drive east of Raleigh. The bodies of Ernestine Battle, 50, Jarniece Hargrove, 31, Taraha Nicholson, 29, Jackie Thorpe, 35, and Melody Wiggins, 29, have all been discovered over the past four years in Edgecombe County.

A special task force of local, state and federal investigators has been looking into those deaths as well as the death of Christine Boone, 43, who was found about 20 miles away near a mobile home in Scotland Neck, Halifax County.

Man charged in one death

In September 2009, the task force arrested 31-year-old Antwan Maurice Pittman in the killing of Taraha Shenice Nicholson. Her body was discovered in March, 2009 near Marriot Farm Road a few miles north of Rocky Mount. The medical examiner said she'd most likely been strangled.

Documents in the case said DNA taken from Nicholson's body matched Pittman.

Pittman currently remains in the Edgecombe County Detention Center charged with first-degree murder.

Pittman has a criminal record. According to the North Carolina sex offender registry, he was convicted in 1994 of taking indecent liberties with a 2-year-old. He was released from prison in April 1997. He was also once charged with loitering for prostitution.

Pittman linked to other deaths

Earlier this month, a search warrant released in the investigation linked Pittman to four other deaths. The document authorized homicide investigators to look for evidence at a Halifax County mobile home where he once lived.

It was near that home that investigators found the body of Christine Boone earlier this month. The search warrant indicated that investigators believe Pittman may have killed Boone in the mobile home.

The warrant also said a NC Highway Patrol trooper found Pittman asleep in a car on the day Jarniece Hargrove disappeared about 200 yards away from where her body was discovered about a month later.

Women all had similar backgrounds

Police say all of the dead women had a history of drug abuse and prostitution in the Rocky Mount area. That was also the case in the latest body found. Roberta Williams was charged with prostitution in December 2006.

Two more missing

Police say there are still two more women from the Rocky Mount area who are missing in similar circumstances. Yolanda Lancaster, 37, and Joyce Renee Durham, 46, have not been heard from by their families for months.

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