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10 Months After Her Nephew Vanishes, Woman Also Goes Missing. Were They Both Killed By The Same Person?

Photo Copyright © 2017 Courtesy of McDowell County Clerk of Court Office via Citizen-Times

When 25-year-old Zilphia Lowery went missing just 10 months after her nephew Jeremiah Pittman, authorities immediately began investigating the mysterious family.

Just like in Pittman’s case, Lowery wound up dead, with many investigators wondering if their family had been involved the entire time.

So, were the disappearances and subsequent homicides connected?

According to UPI, authorities looked into that very question while investigating the murders back in 1992.

The cases are now being looked into in a Thursday night episode of A&E’s Cold Case Files.

“We had two people in the same family, in the same year, go missing. … These cases either have to be related or it is a real coincidence,” one investigator explained in a clip from the show.

Lowery was reported missing in July 1993, but her remains were not found until February 6, 1994, when investigators searched a wooded area near Lake James in North Carolina.

According to an autopsy report, Lowery had died from blunt-force trauma injuries to the back of her head.

For five years, detectives exhausted all of their leads until they finally looked back over a tip that they had received early on in the investigation.

According to a 2008 case summary, one particular detective would regularly review it "looking for anything that might jump out."

Two names, Robbin Whited and Robert, had been written on a small piece of paper for authorities back in 1998.

Although Whited was considered a suspect early on in the case, investigators did not pay him much attention.

At the time, they focused on Garland Edward Pittman, who was later convicted of murdering Asheville real estate agent Wally Wise in 1991.

The 76-year-old was ultimately found stabbed to death in his home.

During the investigation, police discovered that Pittman had also murdered his son, Jeremiah Pittman, who was discovered in a Ruby mine in 1992.

Pittman, however, did not kill Lowery, as investigators learned several years later.

It wasn’t until a detective with the McDowell County Sheriff's Office decided to take a closer look at Whited that the Lowery’s cold case was finally blown wide open.

After being interviewed several times, Whited finally confessed to helping to cover up Lower’s murder and knowing her killer.

On July 27, 1993, Whited had a friend named Robert Dean Taylor over at his mobile home, and the pair decided to invite Lowery to their place.

After picking up Lowery from a truck stop, they all had several mixed drinks and shared some Xanax.

According to Whited, he began having sex with Lowery, but when Taylor walked into the bedroom and said it was his turn, she refused.

Taylor then began beating Lowery until she ultimately died inside of the mobile home.

According to Whited’s testimony at trial, he wanted to call the police for help, but Taylor threatened to hurt him if he told anybody about what had happened.

In 2008, Taylor was convicted of first-degree murder, while Whited was sentenced to three years behind bars for helping with the cover-up.

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