Camping Opens, Questions On Death Linger
The White Oak River Campground sits along the banks of a river that is its namesake and the source of the fishing, paddling and other activities enjoyed by campers, the Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News reported.
The White Oak River also serves as an important boundary between Onslow and Jones counties.
On the Onslow County side, the campground is getting ready for this weekend’s opening and welcoming campers for the season.
“They come out and fish and paddle and it’s a time when people come out for their first camping trip of the season,” said campground owner/operator Michael Banks. “They do marshmallows over the campfire. It’s a weekend without the computers and iPads and they come out and have a good time.”
But as the season gears up, Banks said he has had to answer concerns and questions from campers because of a death investigation that is going on across the county line.
Exit the campground and cross the bridge over the river on U.S. 17 traveling north and you’ve entered Jones County just outside of the Maysville town limits.
On that side of the river, the authorities with the Jones County Sheriff’s Office are working with the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation on an investigation into the death of Elizabeth “Bethany” Rhoades, a Maysville woman who was reported missing by her family,and was last seen Feb. 10.
Her body was located Feb. 23 on the Jones County side of the bridge in a small wooded area between a field and a small fishing pond.
The site is part of nearly 80 acres of land owned by the Banks family, but is in Jones County and is not part of the campground.
While there have been numerous media reports that have identified the campground as the site where the body was found, Banks said that is not the case.
Banks said that over the past several weeks he’s fielded calls from campers wanting to know what had happened and the circumstances around Rhoades’ death.
They have had concerns about safety, but Banks said there is no reason to and the campground has no connection to the investigation.
“We have a safe and family-oriented campground,” he said.
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