Home Crime SBI investigating 2001 Richmond County homicide case

SBI investigating 2001 Richmond County homicide case

Emma Jean Douglas was reportedly last heard from on Feb. 18, 2001 in Sanford. Her body was found three months later in Richmond County. Contributed photo

ROCKINGHAM — A Richmond County homicide that has gone unsolved for 21 years is one of 25 cases highlighted by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation’s Cold Case Investigation Team.

The case involves the death of a woman who was reported missing in Lee County and found dead in Richmond County in 2001.

According to the SBI’s website, the body of Emma Jean Douglas, which was decomposed, was found in a wooded area off of Osborne Road in the southern region of the county on May 16, 2001. Douglas had reportedly been shot multiple times.

A missing persons report had been filed with the Sanford Police Department on March 1 of that year, stating that no one had had contact with Douglas since Feb. 18, according to the SBI.

Her car was reportedly found by investigators in a vacant lot across the street from the home of her estranged husband, Josephus Douglas, in Sanford.

She was reportedly last seen at his home on Feb. 17 and, despite being separated, spent time at his home often, according to the SBI.

Investigators say the husband had also been twice arrested for physically assaulting her prior to her disappearance.


According to the SBI website, the Cold Case Investigation Team was founded in 2020 and is “responsible for assisting local and federal law enforcement investigations with unresolved homicides, missing persons and unidentified individuals in the state.”

The SBI’s cold case investigations also include a triple murder in Bertie County; two homicides in Robeson County, including a double murder in Fairmont; the shooting death of a Fort Bragg solider in Cumberland County; and the murders of two children — a 5-year-old girl in Hoke County and a 6-year-old boy in Stanly County.

There are also three unsolved cases in Sampson, two each in Henderson and Lenoir, and one each in Brunswick, Vance, Davie, Forsyth, Pamlico, Bladen, Buncombe, Alamance, Washington, Wayne and Montgomery counties.

The CCIT is also investigating four missing persons cases, including that of a 4-year-old boy in Sampson County, and a pair of home invasions from 2000.

According to the SBI, the lists published on the website are not a complete representation of the cases the team is working on.

Anyone with information on any of the cases is encouraged to contact the SBI at 800-334-3000.