LUMBERTON — The two women whose bodies were found last week in Lumberton have been identified, but one mystery endures — how they died.
According to the Lumberton Police Department, the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office in Raleigh has identified the body found inside the home at 505 Peachtree St. as Christina Bennett, 32, of the 1900 block of Eastwood Terrace in Lumberton. The body found at 702 E. Fifth St. has been determined to be Rhonda Jones, 36, whose last known address was Troy Drive in Lumberton.
The woman’s identities were determined from medical records, according to police Capt. Terry Parker. He said relatives of the women have been notified of their deaths.
The investigation into the deaths is still ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to call Detectives Dereck Evans or Evan Whitley at 910-671-3845.
The bodies, both in advanced states of decomposition, were discovered April 18 in an area targeted by police as a known hang-out for prostitutes and drug users. The Robesonian did not find any significant criminal history for either Jones or Bennett.
A strange odor led police to the 505 Peachtree St. home, and a short time later another body was found stuffed in a trashcan by a bystander.
The Peachtree Street address is owned by Woodberry Bowen, a Lumberton attorney who has said he was in the process of renovating the property for rent when Hurricane Matthew hit the county. More than half the house is freshly painted, but it has been boarded up by Bowen.
Television station WBTW spoke with relatives of Rhonda Jones last week, before the victims had been positively identified.
According to her mother, Shelia Price, Rhonda Jones had five children.
The victim’s family says they had not heard from Jones in about three weeks and knew something was wrong when she didn’t show up for Easter.
Jones’ younger sister was at the crime scene and found out her sister could possibly be one of the victims after she asked investigators to look for a unique tattoo her sister had on a leg.
“I want whoever did this to be punished. I know somebody knows something. Because Rhonda knows everybody in that that area. Somebody knows what happened to Rhonda,” Price said. “She had five kids… She had a family that loved her… She had a granddaughter that she loved with all of her heart. Somebody needs to be punished for what they did to her. She didn’t deserve this. No one deserved that.”
In the announcement, Lumberton Police Department shared credit with the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office for their assistance, Erich Hackney, an investigator with the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office, and the State Bureau of Investigation.
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly, and T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.