25 years after Raleigh teen's body was found in Wendell creek, case remains an unsolved murder

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Saturday, February 24, 2024
25 years later, death of Raleigh teen found in Wendell remains mystery
The family of 16-year-old Vebecca Jones, who disappeared and was later found dead in 1999, is still seeking answers.

WENDELL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The family of 16-year-old Vebecca Jones is speaking out for the first time in decades after Jones' body was found in a creek off a dirt road in Wendell back in 1999.

The case has received minimal coverage in the past two-and-a-half decades. Vebecca's older brother, Lorenzo Jones, spoke to ABC11 about his baby sister the night before the 25th anniversary.

"I miss her, we all miss her," Lorenzo said. "We called her Ve. She was named after my grandmother, Rebecca, so my mom named her Vebecca."

Vebecca Jones was 16 when she disappeared in 1999

Lorenzo said there isn't a day that goes by that he doesn't think about Ve. He misses her smile and her big, brown, pretty eyes.

He said he was very similar to his sister: They were both curious, sometimes hot-headed, and very independent.

"That girl was tough, boy I'm telling you," Lorenzo said. "She wasn't waiting on nobody to do nothing for her. She was just different."

He's six years older than Ve. He remembers her auntie bought her a pair of high heels when she was little, and she wore them until they broke. He reluctantly recalled that his baby sister learned to drive a stick before he did. He remembers that she had dreams of being a cosmetologist.

Enough is enough, let my mom have some peace, let us live a somewhat normal life. Before it's all said and done, it's going to come to light, I truly believe it will.
- Lorenzo Jones, brother of victim

He said she was stubborn and fiercely loyal. And he misses her every day.

A family's worst nightmare

When she was just 16 years old, Ve went missing. Her age was a concern, but something that made this news even more difficult for her family was that she was three months pregnant at the time.

While he waited for Ve to come home, Lorenzo said his life stopped.

"I didn't do nothing. I didn't go to family functions, I stayed home for Christmas and Thanksgiving," Lorenzo said. "I didn't go nowhere."

Six months later, right around the time Ve would've been due, his family happened to be watching TV.

"They said they found a body between the ages of 15 and 17 years old," Lorenzo said. He didn't want to believe it was his sister.

Eventually, dental records confirmed his worst nightmare. The moment he found out is a little fuzzy 25 years later.

"I don't really remember, I just know my hands went numb," he said.

Ve's body was found in a creek bed just off Old Tarboro Road in Wendell, 17 miles from her home.

Ve's body was found in a creek bed just off Old Tarboro Road in Wendell, 17 miles from her home.
File photo

Men picking up cans in the area found her body and called it in. Lorenzo said he found out who the man was and went to his house, hoping to thank him. He never came to the door, but all these years later, he's still so grateful for him.

"She could still be laying there, you know?" He said. "He could've just said nothing and left her there, so I appreciate him, and my family does, too."

Scant evidence, few leads

Detective Brian Gay with the Wake County Sheriff's Office is assigned to Ve's case now. He grew up in the area and knows it well. He walked the area with ABC11, telling us the old dirt road hasn't changed much since 1999. The creek bed where she was found is under construction now though, as a new neighborhood is being built.

The creek, and the amount of time she spent there, made some evidence difficult to recover 25 years ago.

"She was in a state of advanced decomposition that some of her clothing was still with her, some of the other items were close by, but she was in partially mummified skeletal state," Gay said.

Because of the condition her body was found in, the medical examiner could not confirm whether she was pregnant at the time of her death. However, Lorenzo is positive that she was expecting when she disappeared.

Her autopsy report lists her manner of death as homicide and her cause of death as asphyxiation. The cause of death is especially difficult for Lorenzo to process; he's worried she cried out for help or suffered in her last moments.

A grocery bag was also found with her body. Investigators in 1999 showed pictures of the bag to the media, hoping someone might recognize it and it could help crack the case.

The grocery bag that was recovered at the scene.
File photo

Gay said they eventually discovered that the bag was manufactured for a major grocery chain between 1997 and 1998. It didn't lead to any big new revelations for investigators.

While the sheriff's office has never publicly named any suspects, Lorenzo said he's heard a few names during the past 25 years.

He also remembers that when she was 15, he found her "somewhere she wasn't supposed to be," and he remembers getting her out of the situation and driving her home.

"I sat on the steps and I cried. At the time Ve got killed, there were a lot of women in Raleigh popping up dead, and I told her, 'You see these women popping up every day missing? Dead? This ain't no place for you.'"

A year later, she vanished.

"I couldn't think of it in a million years why someone would take her life," Lorenzo said. "I can't think of nothing she could have done, she wasn't a bad person ... You could ask a thousand people that knew her, and I bet not one could tell you why somebody would want to do that to her."

'Just let me know who did this'

During the last 25 years, it's hard to put into words what Ve's murder has done to his family.

"There's a lot of stuff that goes on that people just don't know, they don't know what it did to us. They don't know what it did to my momma," Lorenzo said. "I ain't seen my momma smile in so long."

At this point, Lorenzo said he isn't even concerned with justice, he just wants to know what happened.

"I don't care if they got away with it, just let me find out. I don't care if they prosecute, Just let me know who did this to my sister," he said. "That's it."

Gay said he believes someone out there knows what happened to Vebecca and has been sitting on the secret all these years. He's asking anyone with information to come forward to finally give some peace and answers to the Jones family.

He said this case is personal to him now, and it will stick with him until it's solved.

"Enough is enough, let my mom have some peace, let us live a somewhat normal life," Lorenzo pleaded. "Before it's all said and done, it's going to come to light, I truly believe it will, and I'm talking about real soon."

If you know anything about this case that could bring answers to the Jones family, you are urged to please contact the Wake County Sheriff's Office at (919) 856-6800.