Cops scour woods for clues in murders

EDGECOMBE COUNTY Click here for pictures from the search

A search team from Johnston County helped out Edgecombe County investigators in a sweep of an area off Seven Bridges and Marriot roads.

Authorities wouldn't comment on the search or say what they were looking for, but the area is the same general location where the bodies of six women have been found over the past several years.

Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28, Ernestine Battle, 50, Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, Melody Wiggins, 29, and Jarneice Hargrove, 31, were all found between 2005 and early this year.

Click here for pictures of the victims

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.

Three other women are missing.

Yolanda Lancaster, 37; Joyce Renee Durham, 46; and Christine Marie Boone, 43 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.

Antwan Maurice Pittman, 31, is accused of killing Nicholson. He was indicted in her murder Tuesday. But, investigators have refused to say if he's a suspect in the other deaths.

Anyone with information on the murders should contact Twin City Crimestoppers at (252) 977-1111.

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