Antwan Maurice Pittman, 31, charged with murdering one of nine Rocky Mount women found dead in similar circumstances in recent years, is also a suspect in at least five of the other cases, including the deaths of two women whose remains were found in recent weeks.
Although no new charges against Antwan Pittman have been filed, investigators have turned up more evidence in a string of murders in and around Rocky Mount that date back to 2003, authorities said. Police are looking into possible links in the deaths of 10 people and two women reported missing.
Pittman, a registered sex offender, was arrested in September, and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Taraha Nicholson when his DNA was found on Nicholson’s body. He had a criminal history of soliciting prostitutes in East Rocky Mount and at different points in his life lived near each of the secluded areas where most of the victims — all with known histories of prostitution and illegal drug use — have been found. One woman’s body was found in a wooded area behind Pittman’s former residence in Scotland Neck. Five of the women were found along Seven Bridges Road, and at one point, Pittman lived nearby in the Battleboro community.
The 160-person team expanded its search to areas inside city limits, along Melton Drive and Pennsylvania Avenue, where the bodies of Elizabeth Smallwood and Travis Harrison were found. A fisherman and his son found Harrison’s body along the Tar River behind Tom Stith Park in 2006. Harrison, 24, was a known crossdresser whose background mirrored the nine female victims. So far, the bodies of Nicholson, Harrison, Jackie Thorpe, Jarniece Hargrove, Christine Boone, Ernestine Battle, Denise Williams, Elizabeth Smallwood, Roberta Williams and Melody Wiggins have been found in wooded areas northeast of Rocky Mount.
The suspect’s trial was expected to start on May 3, but both the prosecutor and defense team said they needed more time to review the evidence in the case. And with more evidence coming in from law enforcement officers, the trial could be delayed for months.
-articles by Mike Hixenbaugh and Eric Eckard rewritten and adapted by admin-