Lumberton officials set to destroy homes after 3 unsolved homicides, hurricane damage

LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – Lumberton City Council wants to tear down abandoned houses and crime havens. Two of those houses are near the area where the bodies of two women were found.

Council members say they’ve been working toward tearing down the homes for a number of years, but recent homicide investigations and damage from Hurricane Matthew has pushed the idea into action.

“Seems like it’s at a standstill,” says Marshall Hemingway of the investigation into his friend’s death.

Rhonda Jones’ body was found April 18 in a trash can at 702 East Fifth St., according to Lumberton Police. There have been no arrests made in the case.

“There is nothing happening to the family, myself, or the children, no satisfaction,” says Hemingway. “It’s frustrating that nothing is being done that we can see.”

Jones’ body was one of two discovered that day. The second body was that of Christina Bennett, 32, found at 505 Peachtree St.

Lumberton police have no leads or suspects in three different homicide cases, but council members say it’s time to clean up the city and hopefully put an end to the violence.

“We have to do something,” says council member Columbus Howard, Jr. “We have to. We were proactive before. We are proactive now.”

Two homes set to be destroyed are:

  • 1110 e 11th street
  • 830 e. 7th street

Howard says vacant homes are crime hubs throughout the city.

“On these low-end properties people will commit crimes, loiter and prostitution,” admits Howard.

Each council member has a list of homes to consider for demolition. Howard has 40 homes on the list in his area, precinct 6.

“Yes, tear them down,” suggests Hemingway. “That is a start to try to keep anything else like this from happening again.”

Autopsy results for the deceased women are not complete, according to the Robeson County Medical Examiner.

Another Lumberton woman is still missing but police say they do not believe Abby Patterson’s disappearance is related to the other three homicides. Anyone with information related to Patterson’s location or the three homicides is asked to call the Lumberton Police Department at 910- 671-3846.