2 years later, mother of dead Lumberton woman has more questions than answers

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LUMBERTON, N.C. (WNCN) – Shelia Price is looking for answers nearly two years after her daughter’s death.

Rhonda Jones was found naked upside down in a trash can in Lumberton in April 2017. 

“These last almost 23 months have been a living hell,” Price said. “People just don’t get naked and crawl in weird spaces to die. Anybody who has any common sense at all knows that.”

Now, she’s found out the rape kits for her daughter, Kristin Bennett and Megan Oxendine sat untested at the Lumberton Police Department for more than a year and a half after their deaths.

She said she’s now also fighting for answers and change. 

“They have hurt these families ten times worse,” Price said. “Y’all sitting here telling us for 23 months we’re working on it. We’re working on it. We’re working on it. How’re you working on something when the evidence is sitting on the shelf for 20 months?”

The Attorney General’s Office told CBS 17 Lumberton police did submit other samples for testing, but the rape kits weren’t submitted until December 2018. 

The Lumberton Police Department released this statement to CBS 17: 

At the time of the autopsies of Christina Bennett, Rhonda Jones, and Megan Oxendine, Lumberton detectives were advised that due to the condition of the bodies, the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits (SAECK) would likely not yield results to advance the investigations.  For that reason, other evidence which may have had a better chance of advancing the investigative process were prioritized and submitted to the crime lab.  The SAECK were submitted more than a year later, their analysis did not provide positive results.  Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said, “Regardless of the test results, the SAECK for each of these women should have been submitted to the lab in a more timely manner, the Lumberton Police Department will review the policies and procedures in place to determine if changes should be made.  We continue to work every day to uncover and prove how these women died. We hold ourselves accountable to their families and to this community to uncover the truth.

As always we continue to ask the public to come forward with information they may have in order to help us determine what happened to these three women. The FBI continues to offer a $30,000 reward for information that leads investigators to determine the circumstances that led to their deaths.

Price said she believes her family has been treated wrong. 

“Something needs to change,” Price said. “This here should never happen to any family. Nobody’s family. It makes me mad.

For Price, she said she’ll continue fighting for her daughter. 

“Rhonda sits in my living room on a pretty shelf, in a pretty urn. She’s home now,” Price said. “I ain’t got to worry about her no more. But she deserves justice. She’s getting justice.”

Price said she plans on reaching out to Gov. Roy Cooper and advocating Attorney General Josh Stein for law enforcement agencies to submit items, including rape kits, for testing in a timely manner. 

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