FBI called in to probe series of murders

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By Mike Hixenbaugh
Rocky Mount Telegram

Local authorities confirmed Monday federal officers are helping investigate a string of similar Rocky Mount murders dating back to 2005.

Police didn’t say when the FBI joined the task-force probe into the case, which has gripped the area in recent weeks, and authorities still will not say if they believe the murders might be the work of a serial killer.

One national expert on such crimes, however, said federal involvement in the investigation indicates officials are chasing a habitual killer.

“In my experience, they definitely wouldn’t come in if it wasn’t a serial killer,” said John Kelly, president of the New Jersey-based System to Apprehend Lethal Killers. “At some point, they’ll start to put a profile together on this person. They’ll start to focus in on his personality, what kind of killer he is, what types of women he’s after.”

Rumors of a potential serial killer have rippled through the city the past month, ever since police publicly connected the dots between a series of missing women and murders in East Rocky Mount. Six Rocky Mount women have been found dead in rural areas outside the city since 2005.

Each of the five victims who have been identified were black women found in remote locations near the eastern boundary of Rocky Mount, and each had a history of drug or alcohol abuse and prostitution, according to criminal records. Each was found only partially clothed and at least two of the women were strangled.

The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office is leading the task force investigation, which also includes Rocky Mount police and the SBI, to determine if the murders are related.

Kelly said he’s almost certain they are.

“The police must believe this is the same guy, that it’s a serial killer,” Kelly said. “If (the FBI) is coming in, they’ve pretty much determined one person is responsible for a good number of these murders. Now they’ll be working to figure out what makes this guy tick, to figure out his fantasy.”

Kelly, who played a role along with his partner Frank Adamson in helping profile and catch the Green River Killer in Seattle earlier this decade, said he and his team are working to assemble their own profile of the potential killer.

“I feel for these families,” Kelly said. “I really do. It’s so sad. I want to help catch this guy before anyone else has to suffer.”

Authorities are searching for at least three missing women in connection with the case: Yolanda “Snap” Lancaster, 37; Joyce Renee Durham, 46; and Christine Marie Boone, 43.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Rocky Mount Police Department at 252-972-1411.

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