What do the names Sara Nicole Graham, Faith Hedgepeth, Katina Locklear and Rhonda Jones mean to you? To Native American communities in North Carolina, those names mean a lot. These are just a few of the missing and murdered indigenous women in our state.
Being from eastern NC, I describe it as a place of beauty and pain. Being a Native person myself, I can say we have a lot of culture and roots down home. As children, me and my relatives were told to always be careful, because many people from our neck of the woods go missing and are never heard from again.
I wish I could give you a solid number of missing and murdered Native women in our state, but I can’t. Reporting related to these incidences is off. When a person goes missing, sometimes authorities assume that persons ethnicity based on their appearance, and living in the south where things are very black and white, there’s a large underreporting of missing Native American women because they are oftentimes race-wise labeled as something else.
In the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons 2018 Annual Report, it states there are 14,544 missing persons in NC. But in Robeson County, and surrounding counties, it’s more of an epidemic. Facebook groups like Shatter the Silence and The Missing of Robeson County NC serve as a gathering place for families and friends of the missing to share information and document the growing list of local missing persons. Many families of the missing and murdered feel betrayed by law enforcement and want answers.
Because of our commitment here at Women AdvaNCe to the wellbeing and honest reporting of experiences women in our state are facing, on Saturday, April 25th from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, we will be co-hosting the North Carolina Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Online Rally. We have over 20 speakers lined up including families of the missing or murdered, local government, and allies. Speakers will present on Facebook Live on the main event page for the public.
Join us on April 25th to demand justice for these women, and all missing persons in NC!
The family of Rhonda Jones planned a ballon release for the three year anniversary of Rhonda’s death, however the park is closed now due to COVID, the family will now have a private gathering at home. Rhonda was one of three women who were murdered and found within a couple of blocks of each other in Spring 2017. The other victims were Megan Oxendine and Christina Bennett.
Faith Hedgepeth, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribal community in Warren County, was murdered in her off campus apartment on the morning of Sept. 7, 2012, her beaten and bloodied body discovered by her roommate. Her case remains unsolved.
Sara Nicole Graham left her home in Fairmont to go to work at Wal-Mart in Pembroke on February 2015, but she next showed up. Her van was found abandoned in a field later that day. Her case remains unsolved.
Katina Locklear died at the end of a dirt road, her body abandoned next to a drainage ditch. On the day she died, she had gone to bring the homeless food – five days before Christmas.