BUNCOMBE CO., N.C. (WSPA) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death of a girl on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and they say her father murdered her.
36-year-old Seth Willis Pickering is charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty.
He is being held in the Buncombe County Detention Center and the judge will appoint a public defender for him.
The victim is 6-year-old Lila Pickering. Authorities say she is Pickerling’s daughter. She was killed inside the park, which is why the FBI is investigating her death.
The FBI says the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a missing person for Lila Pickering and while taking the report and preparing to issue an AMBER Alert, they were notified by National Park Service of the homicide on the Parkway.
Park Rangers at the scene found a car parked in a grassy area along the side of the Parkway and found the victim as well as the suspect and make an arrest immediately.
A spokeswoman with the FBI said a portion of the Parkway between Brevard and Hendersonville roads was closed for several hours before reopening around 1 a.m. Saturday morning while investigators gathered evidence and processed the scene near mile marker 393.
The FBI, National Parks Service and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the child’s killing.
Due to the fact that the crime occurred on Federal property, the FBI is reviewing the case with the Assistant US Attorney and they say the case may be adopted for Federal prosecution.
Lila was a 1st grade student at Johnston Elementary School. Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin says, “While many questions have yet to be answered, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the heartbreaking loss of this wonderful little girl.”
“We will have crisis support teams on hand Monday morning at Johnston Elementary School to help students, teachers, and staff come to grips with this senseless tragedy,” added Baldwin, “They will remain for as long as they are needed.”