Officials get break in Carolina killings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2006

MURFREESBORO, N.C. — A break has developed in a three-month-old double homicide case.

Hertford County, N.C., Sheriff Juan Vaughan said Thursday that a third DNA sample has been discovered in a vehicle in which two elderly Emporia sisters were traveling prior to their bodies being discovered off a farm path just north of Murfreesboro.

“We have previously confirmed that DNA samples collected from the car were those of the two victims,” Vaughan said. “Now, a third DNA sample has been found in the car.”


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Vaughan offered no other details about the new evidence.

The bodies of Dorothy Hobbs, 74, and her 71-year-old sister Nellie Bradley were discovered at 7:38 p.m. on Aug. 4 along a farm path north of Murfreesboro off Vaughan’s Creek Road. Hobbs had lacerations to her neck and face while Bradley suffered wounds to her chest.

Both women were partially clothed when they were discovered.

The sisters, who are known to travel together on a frequent basis in southside Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, were last seen alive at approximately 4:15 p.m. on Aug. 4 when they stopped at Boykins Baptist Church to make a donation to Relay for Life.

The vehicle in which the two were traveling, a 1996 Ford Crown Victoria, was found just before midnight on Aug. 4, parked behind an abandoned residence near Boykins.

Since that time, the Hertford County Sheriff’s Department, aided by the Southampton County

Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies, has been actively involved in the investigation. Bloodhounds, specifically trained to sniff out old clues, have, on multiple occasions visited the location where the bodies were found. One week after the murders, lawmen set-up traffic checking stations along N.C. 35, Vaughan’s Creek Road and

Vaughan’s Mill Road in an effort to solicit information from motorists who use those routes on a routine basis.

Vaughan said his investigators were still tracking down leads on the case. He noted one lead was developed earlier this week. However, as of the current moment, the killer or killers remain at-large.

“This thing is eating at me,” Vaughan said. “In the past, when we’ve had a murder here in Hertford County, we’ve normally had someone behind bars within a month’s time frame. But not in this case. We’ve used every resource available to us … tracked down every lead and talked to a countless number of individuals, but still no arrest. But I will promise you one thing, we will not rest, we will not quit until the person or persons responsible for this crime is arrested, prosecuted and jailed.”

Those with information concerning the whereabouts of the two women between the time they were last seen at the Boykins church, up until the time prior to their bodies being found, are urged to contact the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office (252) 358-7841, the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office 653-2100, or the NCSBI 1-800-334-3000.

A reward is offered for information that leads to an arrest.