So many American cities have women who, for one reason or another, live on the margins. In some cases, they are that sad combination of hooker and drug addict. They sell sex to feed their habits, or to feed their children.
In one small, North Carolina City, nine such women have vanished since 2005.
Six were later found dead, murdered but so decomposed that finding a cause of death became near impossible. All of the victims were black.
The city is Rocky Mount, 60 miles northeast of Raleigh. Sadly, the story of prostitutes who die by violence is not unique to this particular place. Yet residents of Rocky Mount tell a story of alleged police inaction due largely to the lifestyles of the victims. That too is not unique. It’s almost a given that serial killers can ply their trade among prostitutes and drug addicts because it takes so long for the law to recognize what’s happening.
In the case of Rocky Mount, it wasn’t until the latest victim was discovered in June that local and state police formed a task force, and it was last month that the FBI got involved. They won’t say if they suspect a serial killer, but an awful lot of people in Rocky Mount think its the work of one man. Keep in mind that three women have disappeared, and none of them have been found.
The issue here, beyond the tragedy of these homicides, is the value of human life. Say what we will about all being equal, we treat some as less than equal, in some cases, far less. The life of a drug addicted hooker isn’t one to envy on any level. Still, our own humanity should demand we care, especially if such women are deliberately targeted.
In a couple of cases, women who walked the streets of Rocky Mount and jumped in and our of cars with men decided it wasn’t worth the risk.
One woman who knew two of the victims has founded a group to publicize the slayings, and to search for the three women who remain missing.
The group is called Murdered or Missing Sisters or MOMS. They’ve raised awareness to the point that national media has begun to cover the story.
While that’s all well and good, one wonders if these killings would have been highlighted sooner if the women involved weren’t part of that shadow world of people living on society’s margins.
Will we ever consider that their lives mean as much as anyone else’s? You tell me.