Hunters discover body

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

WILLIAMSTON – Over two years have passed since Al Revelle Wiggins of Kelford slipped beneath the swirling waters of the Roanoke River. Until this past weekend, no one knew exactly if Wiggins had died of his own accord following a bizarre chain of events in early October of 2001.

On Sunday, a group of men surveying a good place to deer hunt made the gruesome discovery of a body on an embankment along the river. The body, mostly skeletal remains, was found near the Hamilton landing in Martin County, approximately seven miles upstream from Williamston.

According to Martin County Sheriff Keith Roach, a small amount of clothing remained on the body, including a portion of a pair of pants and one shoe. The pants still contained a wallet, one that contained identification bearing Wiggins’ name and address.

&uot;Based upon the identification found in the wallet as well as a description of the clothing and the shoe, confirmed by family members of what the man was wearing on the last day he was seen alive, we have identified the body as that of Al Revelle Wiggins,&uot; said Sheriff Roach.

The Sheriff confirmed that his department had requested an autopsy.

Wiggins was last seen on Oct. 3, 2001 when a truck driver called 911 just before 6 p.m. to report that he had seen a car with a man on top go under at the boat landing beside the Burgwyn-Rogers Bridge, one that spans the Roanoke River on US 258 between Rich Square and Scotland Neck.

According to Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent, the truck driver reported that while crossing the bridge he had seen a car floating down the Roanoke River with a man on top.

At that time, Vincent said the truck driver then saw both car and man go under.

After the car submerged, Vincent reported, the truck driver said the man came up once and then disappeared beneath the swiftly running waters of the river.

Dive teams were called to the scene and the car was found about 200 yards from the boat ramp, but the man was not.

Dogs trained to detect human scent, even beneath the water, were employed and divers searched the waters around the car.

Vincent reported that the license tag, which was read by the divers, was traced. When the owner of the car was contacted, she said that her brother (Wiggins) had borrowed the car. That led Sheriff Vincent to presume that Wiggins was the person seen atop the car by the truck driver.

The chain of events that preceded Wiggins driving his sister’s car into the Roanoke River was even more bizarre.

Wiggins had been questioned earlier in October of 2001 by the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office after his car, which he had reported stolen from Newmarket Shopping Center in Ahoskie, was found burned near Colerain.

Wiggins reported the alleged vehicle theft to the Ahoskie Police Department. The vehicle was later discovered burning along Joe Harrell Road near Colerain.

Detective Ed Pittman of the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office advised arson was the suspected cause of the vehicle fire and it appeared that the tires and rims of the vehicle had been removed before the fire was set.

Now in is sister’s car, Wiggins apparently drove to the US 258 boat landing where he allegedly drove the vehicle into the water. Although the boat landing is located in Halifax County, the original search was under the jurisdiction of the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department because the river is in Northampton.

Search teams from several local departments assisted in the search, which was hazardous in the swift waters of the Roanoke. One search boat overturned while the fast current swept the divers more than a 100 yards downriver before they made it to safety.