Sheriff solicits information in double murder

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006

MURFREESBORO – It’s a mystery without many clues.

However, that fact has not prevented the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and eight other law enforcement agencies from aggressively seeking the person or persons responsible for the Aug. 4 murders of two elderly Emporia, Va. sisters.

The bodies of Dorothy Hobbs, 74, and her 71-year-old sister Nellie Bradley were discovered at 7:38 p.m. on that date along a farm path north of Murfreesboro off the Vaughan’s Creek Road.

Exactly one week later (Aug. 11), Hertford County lawmen were out soliciting information during a traffic stop at the intersection of Vaughan’s Creek Road and Vaughan’s Mill Road between the hours of 4-7:30 p.m. Simultaneously, Northampton and Hertford authorities were seeking information at a traffic stop performed at the Northampton County end of Vaughan’s Creek Road at its intersection with NC 35 just north of Severn.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan said both efforts produced a few new leads that are now being investigated.

“We chose that particular day and time for a purpose,” Vaughan said. “It was a Friday, the same day the murders occurred one week earlier, and the time frame was important because the last time the sisters were seen alive was around 4 p.m. and their bodies were discovered shortly past 7:30 p.m.”

Vaughan continued, “People are creatures of habit. As motorists, they basically travel the same routes at certain times of the day. We felt by conducting these traffic stops in these particular areas we may hit upon someone who noticed something out of the ordinary on Aug. 4.”

In addition to obtaining a few new leads as a result of the traffic stops, Vaughan said a reward is now being offered by his office for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime.

“This is a very tedious process,” Vaughan noted. “We follow-up on each and every lead we receive, but we must first find out if that information holds any relative weight to the overall investigation.”

As an example, Vaughan said information that placed the two women in Boykins, Va. prior to 4:15 p.m. was valuable, but not relative.

“We were able to verify that the two women stopped at a Boykins convenience store, but that came prior to the women being seen making a donation for Relay for Life at Boykins Baptist Church at 4:15 p.m.,” Vaughan said. “That was the last time they were seen alive. We’re making an all-out effort to obtain information of their whereabouts after 4:15 p.m.”

The sheriff did confirm that the results from an Aug. 5 autopsy performed in Greenville have been received, but he would not go into any detail. Early reports showed that Hobbs had lacerations to her neck and face while Bradley suffered wounds to her chest.

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 (757-653-2100) or the SBI (1-800-334-3000). This information can include someone seeing the vehicle in which the two were traveling – a 1996 Ford Crown Victoria, black in color – that perhaps was being operated along Highway 35 (in either Virginia or North Carolina), the Vaughan’s Creek Road or the Vaughan’s Mill Road.

That vehicle was found at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 4 behind an abandoned residence near Boykins. A forensic investigation has been performed on the vehicle.