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2014 Rewind: March

The month of March began with the tragic news of two local women that were murdered inside their homes over a three-day span.

The first occurred March 2 when 85-year-old Ruby Martin Baker of Parker Ave. in Ahoskie was shot around 1 a.m. by an intruder or intruders. She was transported to VidantRoanoke-Chowan Hospital where she succumbed a short time later.

The Ahoskie Police were alerted to the residence through a call received from ADT alarm monitoring service. Responding law enforcement officers secured the residence and launched an investigation. A portion was Parker Ave. was closed off for a short period of time on Sunday.

As of the end of 2014, no one has been charged with Baker’s murder.

Three days later near Merry Hill, what started as a fatal fire investigation turned into a murder probe after an autopsy revealed that 80-year-old Bessie Mae Slade White was murdered prior to her home, located at 1615 Highway 45 North, being engulfed in flames.

That homicide investigation resulted in the March 12 arrest of Aaron Riddick, 32, of Perrytown Road in Colerain. He was charged with first degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. Bertie Sheriff John Holley said he believes money – $400 in U.S. currency – may have been the motive behind the slaying.

Sisters perish

in house fire

Two young teen sisters perished in a house fire in the early morning hours of March 6  at 419 North Mitchell Street, Ahoskie. The father and brother of the victims were badly burned.

14-year-old Angel Cherry and her 13-year-old sister, Aaliyah Cherry, were not able to escape from the burning home and were later pronounced dead at Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.

The father, 54-year-old Earl Drake, and his 8-year-old son, Omarion Drake, managed to escape, but both suffered burns and were airlifted to Norfolk Sentara Hospital. Omarion was later airlifted to a burn center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The cause of the fire is linked to a kerosene heater in the living room of the home. Following an investigation conducted by the North Carolina SBI, it was determined that the heater was placed too close to combustible materials, according to Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday.

The deaths of the sisters prompted two events in the days following the tragedy – one at New Ahoskie Baptist Church where tears of sorrow fell inside as the local community gathered for an impromptu service. Several days later, students and staff at Ahoskie Elementary School remembered the life of Aaliyah Cherry (a 6th grader at the school) by releasing purple balloons on the activity field as well as lining the 6th grade hallways with cards and letters.

Fire victim rescued

Conway fireman Jonathan Martin and Gaston Fire Chief Ed Porter Jr. are credited with saving a life as they, battling near zero visibility within a smoke-filled residence, located and pulled Kenneth Miggins to safety on March 6 in Pendleton.

“Anytime you can save a life, it’s a good day…it’s well worth all the training,” said Conway Fire Chief Joe Barrett.

The following week, Martin was honored by American Red Cross who presented the firefighter with their prestigious “Golden Helmet Award.”

Creque resigns

In a surprise announcement on March 17, Northampton County Manager Kenneth “Ken” Creque submitted his resignation after only eight months on the job.

Robert Carter, chairman of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that the resignation is immediate.

Carter added that Creque, who was hired last July, was still under his nine-month probationary period.

Carter said that Kim Turner, who was serving as the Assistant County Manager, has been appointed by the board to serve as Interim Manager, also effective immediately. She was appointed as the County Manager later in the year.

Harrell cancels

reelection plans

Bertie County District-2 County Commissioner Rick Harrell stunned his board colleagues as well as his supporters on March 20 when he read a letter indicating he will not be seeking votes in the upcoming May primary.

The announcement means a 16-year of public service in local government will end with the expiration of his current term of office in November of this year.