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On February 4th, 1951 the bodies of four were found slain under mysterious circumstances in Nash and Edgecombe Counties.

The body of John Melvin 50, was found on a farm in Edgecombe County. William Battle 29, was found on his door step. Both were nude and partially burned. The body of G.W. Batchelor 80, was found in a corn crib. And an 18 month old daughter of Tom George Battle, Vonella Battle, was found dead in a bed, Tom Battle was also shot.

This all began at Tom Battle’s home in Nashville one block from the police station at that time. At 1AM, when visiting a friend, James Cooper, shot Tom Battle in the arm, Cooper and his wife were scheduled to baby sit Tom’s 9 or 10 children (Reports Differ), while Tom and his wife were away from home. Cooper told police that Tom gave him a pistol for self defense and it discharged accidently. Family members found 18-month-old Vonella Battle, a daughter dead at home several hours after the shooting with no evident cause.

Three more deaths surfaced that day.

Farmer, Otha Baker went to feed livestock on his property about 1.5 miles south of Langley crossroads in Nash County and found 50-year-old John Melvin’s nude body near Baker’s home.

Meanwhile, near Battleboro in Edgecombe County friends found William “Jack” Battle in his own front yard between the door step and his vehicle. He had multiple burns. Sheriff Tom Bardin started an immediate investigation and treated his death as a murder. In this case Nathaniel “Eddie” Pittman and Robert Brake were detained as suspects by Sheriff Tom Bardin.

They were with Battle the previous night lounging near the ABC store in Battleboro. Jim Williams offered them all a ride home instead they were all dropped off at Battle’s home a half mile away where Pittman’s vehicle was and they drank a pint of whiskey together. Brake and Pittman left Battle in bed and went to Pittman’s house. A witness stated that they saw flames in Battle’s yard that night but did not stop to investigate. Around that same time, they saw Pittman’s 1939 sedan at Battle’s home. Brake admitted to borrowing Pittman’s car that night to go home and feed his livestock and returning to Pittman’s home about 60-90 mins later and Pittman was asleep so Brake spent the night there. He stated that he never went back to Brake's home.

The Sheriff suggested that Brake and Battle’s wife were “going together” though both denied it. He believed that Battle was doused with an accelerant but found none at his home. Pittman and Brake were both released from custody and never charged.

The last victim was G.W. Batchelor 80, who was found in a corn crib on farmer J.E. Earps property, 12 miles south of Nashville.

There is no reference on injuries published.

None of these cases were ever solved.

These cases are 70 years old and not likely to ever be solved.

It is unfortunate.

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