Keeping the memory alive

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2007

EMPORIA, Va. – It’s been a year since anyone saw Dorothy (&uot;Dot&uot;) Hobbs and Nellie Bradley alive.

One year has passed since their last telephone call to a family member was made from David’s Market (located in the Hunterdale area in northwestern Franklin, Va.).

Today (Saturday) is the one-year anniversary of the discovery of the bodies of Hobbs and Bradley, discovered near a farm path off Vaughan’s Creek Road north of Murfreesboro.

And it’s been a year in which no arrests have been made in the murders, few suspects have been considered for the crimes and only slivers of clues have been found.

For Linda Tuck of Emporia, Va., the youngest sister of the two victims, nightmares continue. She’s determined to keep the case – if not the memories of her older sisters – alive.

&uot;Dot called my house from David’s Market at 3:35 p.m. (on the day of the murders) and left a message on my answering machine,&uot; Tuck said. &uot;I never heard the message [because] the police have the tape.&uot;

She went on.

&uot;We don’t want the local people to forget about this and to think the case has been solved since it has not.&uot;

The sisters, the oldest of six children raised in Emporia, liked to take drives in the country. On their last day, Aug. 4, 2006, they were seen in Boykins, Va. donating money to church fund-raiser. They were murdered a short time later.

Three months after the bodies were found beaten, stabbed and left partially clothed, Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan announced that DNA was discovered in the vehicle occupied by the sisters. That DNA did not match either Hobbs or Bradley. Investigators, using a national law enforcement database, were unable to find a match to that mystery DNA.

The case remains open.

The bodies of Hobbs, 74, and Bradley, 71, 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 were 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 black 1996 Ford Crown Victoria, was found just before midnight on Aug. 4, 2006 parked behind an abandoned residence near Boykins.

Since that time, the Hertford County Sheriff’s Department, aided by the Southampton County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the SBI and other law enforcement agencies, has been actively involved in the investigation. Bloodhounds, specifically trained to sniff out old clues, and their handlers have, on multiple occasions, visited the location where the bodies were found. One week after the murders, lawmen set-up traffic checking stations along NC 35, the Vaughan’s Creek Road and the Vaughan’s Mill Road in an effort to solicit information from motorists who use those routes on a routine basis.

“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.”

(Paul McFarlane is Editor of the Tidewater News in Franklin, Va., a sister publication of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.)