Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Antwan Maurice Pittman - Repeat Sex Offender - Charged with First degree murder

Pittman was convicted in 1994
for taking indecent liberties with a 2-year-old child.

An Edgecombe County grand jury determined Tuesday the state has enough evidence to move forward with its first-degree murder case against 31-year-old Antwan Maurice Pittman.

Pittman, a Rocky Mount man, is accused of strangling 28-year-old Taraha Shenice Nicholson earlier this year and dumping her body in the woods in a rural stretch of Edgecombe County, about a mile outside Rocky Mount.

The grand jury indictment negates a preliminary hearing that had been scheduled for Sept. 16. Pittman’s next court appearance had yet to be scheduled Tuesday afternoon.

A law enforcement task force that includes the sheriff’s office, Rocky Mount police, state investigators and the FBI is continuing to investigate to determine if Pittman had anything to do with the deaths of four other Rocky Mount women killed in similar circumstances since 2005.

Investigators and prosecutors won’t say what evidence they have linking Pittman to Nicholson’s murder. Pittman’s defense team of Tommy Moore and Tom Sallenger could not be reached for comment.

Nicholson’s body was discovered March 7 in a wooded area off Marriott Road in rural Edgecombe County, three weeks after her mother reported her missing. Nicholson’s body was only partially clothed, authorities said, and she had been choked to death and dragged a distance through the woods, according to the autopsy.

Nicholson was the fourth victim discovered along the same rural stretch in Western Edgecombe County since 2005. Police have yet to identify a sixth potential victim found dead in February inside city limits, but that case has not been ruled a homicide.

All the known victims were black women from low-income families in East Rocky Mount. Most were known to have peddled sex to feed drug habits, according to court records and family members.
Bodies of all the known victims – Nicholson, 28, Jarniece Hargrove, 31, Ernestine Battle, 50, Jackie Nikelia Thorpe, 35, and Melody Wiggins, 29 – were found between 2005 and early this year along the same rural stretch outside the city off Seven Bridges Road.

Police are searching for three other missing women – Yolanda “Snap” Lancaster, 37, Joyce Renee Durham, 46, and Christine Boone, 43 – in connection with the investigation.
Pittman is being held without bond at Central Prison in Raleigh.

"25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years"
.........Sarah Tofte

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