- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2016

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) - It’s been five years since a suspected Rocky Mount serial killer was convicted of a single murder.

Victims’ family members said they’re hoping for a sense of closure only a trial can bring. They’ve been patient for years, but will most likely have to continue to wait.

Antwan Pittman, 38, is believed to have killed around a dozen women in Rocky Mount from 2003 to 2009. Almost all the victims were black prostitutes with drug addictions, making them easy prey for a killer who discarded their bodies in wooded or rural areas, mostly along Seven Bridges Road.

While Pittman was a suspect in several cases, the quantum of proof necessary to convince a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt wasn’t present to a similar degree across all of the cases, said Robert Evans, district attorney for the Seventh Prosecutorial District, which is comprised of Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties.

“We made the strategic decision to focus our efforts and resources in the case we concluded gave us the best chance of removing a dangerous predator from the community,” Evans said. “Although there are no current plans to proceed with any additional charges, we are open to that possibility should new evidence materialize.”

Pittman was convicted in late September 2011 of first-degree murder in the 2009 strangulation of 28-year-old Taraha Nicholson. Pittman was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He spent four years in Raleigh’s Central Prison where he received 11 infractions, including being in an unauthorized location seven times. Pittman received two of those infractions, unauthorized leave and possession of a weapon, in January. Two weeks later, Pittman was transferred to Lumberton Correction Institution, trading a maximum-security cell block for a medium-security dormitory. Last month, Pittman received an infraction for selling medication, all according to information from the N.C. Public Safety Department.

Yolanda “Snap” Lancaster, 38, was still a missing person when Pittman was arrested in 2009. Two years later, just months before Pittman’s trial, Lancaster’s decomposed body was discovered in a wooded area near the Battleboro community.

Lancaster’s mother Juray Tucker said Thursday she’s been waiting five years for a call from prosecutors saying they were charging Pittman with her daughter’s death.

“I will not be satisfied until there’s a conviction in my daughter’s case,” Tucker said. “All us mothers feel that way.”

Rocky Mount Councilman Andre Knight, who grew up with one of the earliest victims, was instrumental in drawing law enforcement and media attention to the killings.

“We organized and forced the hand of the authorities,” Knight said last week. “The conviction gave families a chance to begin healing, but many of them are still grieving. We all thought there would be more coming.”

Knight said the killings were ignored for years because of the victims’ background. And since the trial, the case has been forgotten.

“Everybody deserves respect and dignity,” Knight said. “Life takes us down a road, but we’re still people. These women deserve better than to be forgotten.”

The last known victim, Jarniece “Sunshine” Hargrove, 30, was killed in 2009. Her mother Patsy Hargrove waited for justice in her daughter’s case right up until the 60-year-old woman died in late 2014.

“She died without seeing real justice,” Tucker said. “I feel like they all just forgot us.”

Tucker said she wants courtroom justice for her daughter - for all the daughters.

“It eats at me,” she said. “It never leaves me … it just never leaves me.”

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Information from: Rocky Mount Telegram, https://www.rockymounttelegram.com

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