LUMBERTON, NC (WMBF) – Authorities in Lumberton found the badly-decomposed body of a woman in a vacant house Saturday morning.
This is the third woman to be found in less than two months in Lumberton and the bodies were found within blocks of one another.
According to a Lumberton Police Department news release, officers responded to the 600 block of East Eighth Street at 10:24 a.m. Chief Michael McNeil said the entire police department is very concerned there is now three suspicious deaths someone is responsible for and is still on the lose.
McNeil said the term "serial killer" is not being used because there is no cause of death for any of them.
He added the deaths are considered to be homicides, but there is no indication as to how the women were killed.
LPD detectives, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and a Robeson County District Attorney's Office investigator worked the crime scene. McNeil said all available agencies on the local, state and federal level are working the case. He added neighborhood canvasing is taking place during this investigation.
Fifteen-year-old Marcus McCollum was walking with his friend outside when they came across the woman's body Saturday morning.
"Me and him walked down there on the tracks and kept smelling it harder and harder and we walked up to the big bush on the side of the house," McCollum said.
The foul smell is what led McCollum and his friend to the side of a house along the train tracks.
"I went to move the bush and a whole lot flies came out of the bush and I started getting curious thinking something is in there. The face, it was beaten badly. It was just black and I had thought there was a bag on it," McCollum said.
Felicia Pitt, who also lives next to the abandoned house, said the young woman was familiar around the neighborhood.
"You develop a friendship when you see people every day and it just hurt," Pitt said. "I talked to her every day; my husband even ministered to her. She just made a difference in your life. She was just a beautiful person."
Pitt is asking for more help, including doing something with the area's abandoned structures.
Police, councilmen, everybody needs to come together as a community," she said. "That's what I want to see, everybody join forces because this is crazy."
The body is being sent to the North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office for identification and an autopsy.
Anyone with information should contact Det. Jennifer White or Det. David Williford at the Lumberton Police Department at (910) 671-3845.