LUMBERTON, NC — After two women have vanished from the same area where three women’s bodies were discovered within a three-block radius in Lumberton, North Carolina, a growing number of people are asking: Could a serial killer be on the loose?
Three female corpses were discovered from April to June in a three-block area of Lumberton that is known for drug dealing and prostitution. The bodies were badly decomposed, and autopsies were unable to determine definite causes of death.
Cynthia Jacobs, 41, has been missing from Lumberton since July. Her sister-in-law claims that she was the last person to see one of the murdered women — Megan Oxendine — alive.
And then last month, 20-year-old Abby Patterson (main photos, above) of Jacksonville, Florida, vanished while visiting her mother in Lumberton. She was last seen on September 5, getting into a brown Buick with what police have described as an “acquaintance” in the same area where the bodies were found.
Lumberton Police Captain Terry Parker has stated that he is “99 percent sure” that Jacobs’ and Patterson’s disappearances are unrelated to the corpse discoveries, according to Action News Jax. He explains that the three murder victims were known to be “on the street,” whereas the missing women are not.
Lumberton police, the State Bureau of Investigation, and the FBI have joined forced in the investigation — but so far, have not determined if the cases are connected.
But other experts, and some residents of Lumberton, believe that the fact that the murders happened within such close proximity to each other to be an indicator that the killings are connected, and that the suspect may live locally and be familiar with the area.
On April 18, authorities investigating a complaint of a suspicious odor found the decomposed body of 32-year-old Christina Bennett inside an abandoned home on Peachtree Street.
Later on that same day, investigators found the body of Rhonda Jones — a mother of five who reportedly had a history of drug use — stuffed inside a trash container in the same area.
Then, on June 3, police found Megan Oxendine’s bound, nude body behind a home on East 8th Street, roughly 500 feet from where Jones’ remains were found. Chillingly, Oxendine had been interviewed for the news after the discovery of Jones’ corpse just two months before, as the two women were friends.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Lumberton Police Department at (910) 671-3845.
If you are in search of a missing person, make sure to enter their information into the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
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Main photo: Pictures of Abby Patterson [Supplied]