North Carolina Man Stabs 6-Year-Old Daughter To Death In Front Of Park Rangers To Reclaim Lost Custody: ‘It’s What She Wanted’

A North Carolina man, who wanted to reclaim the lost custody of his 6-year-old daughter, stabbed and killed her in front of approaching Park Rangers.

Seth Pickering, 36, of Leicester, was arrested by Buncombe County sheriff’s deputies along a well-traveled section of the Blue Ridge Parkway after rangers witnessed him stabbing a girl from a distance of about 20 feet. The men on duty unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate the child, who was later identified as the man’s daughter, Lila Pickering. When one Park Ranger asked Pickering why he had stabbed the child, this was what he said.

“Now they will never be able to take her away from me… She’s happier now… it’s what she wanted.”

According to the Citizen-Times, Lila’s parents, Seth and Ashley Bickering, separated last year after the latter ran away from an abusive relationship. The father brought Lila to Buncombe County, but after having a dispute with another person, his daughter was taken into protective custody.

“My husband and I separated because he was abusive, and we were working on getting her back down here,” Ashley Pickering said.

“She was in protective custody. I don’t know how he got her near her. It’s been one nightmare after another after another. For 15 months, we’ve been fighting this.”

Six-year-old stabbed by father to death.
[Image via GoFundMe]

A document detailing a federal complaint, which was made accessible to media organizations, showed that the North Carolina father was only allowed to have supervised visits with Lila, who had been placed in temporary custody by the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services, according to ABC News.

However, last week, Seth reportedly went to the custodian’s house and took Lila without permission. The custodian attempted to stop Seth, the documents show, but he was in no mood to listen to any advice.

“Seth, please don’t do this, they will put you in jail,” the custodian had reportedly told the North Carolina father.

As the local police authorities were in the process of initiating a missing persons report and BOLO for Lila, National Park Rangers Service rangers spotted Seth Pickering’s vehicle. Lila and her father were walking down a steep embankment on the shoulder of the roadway. Pickering then went on to cut the underbrush and build a small fire.

The Rangers, not aware that Lila was missing, approached Seth to investigate the illegal campfire. It is at this moment that a panicked Seth, thinking that the men on duty had come to take his daughter away from her, shouted “Police!” and lunged at his daughter before stabbing her to death before their very eyes.

Despite all attempts to save Lila, the young girl died on the spot. A medical examiner later ruled that the girl died from stab wounds to her heart and lungs.

Pickering was subsequently arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of his child. He is currently being held at the Buncombe County Detention Facility without a bond. If convicted, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Court documents showed that Pickering later told detectives that he killed Lila on an impulse.

“I reacted the only way I knew that she could go to sleep without having to cry daddy I want to come home… I knew as soon as they showed up they would take her away from me and never let me see her again.”

Now the mother of the child has been left devastated. As abusive as Seth Pickering was to her, she said, the NC father had never hurt Lila.

“He was the most loving father and Lila worshiped the ground he walked on. She loved her daddy so much. She would jump in his lap and smile and laugh and be so happy when he was holding her,” Ashley Pickering said.

[Featured Image via Buncombe County Detention Facility]

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