ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A North Carolina father is facing a murder charge after he allegedly stabbed his 6-year-old daughter in the heart.
Friday night, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was called to Ashville, North Carolina to investigate a homicide.
According to WHNS, 36-year-old Seth Willis Pickering has been charged with first degree murder in connection with the case.
The victim is his 6-year-old daughter, Lila Pickering, an FBI agent confirmed.
Lila suffered a stab wound to the heart, according to the FBI.
Officials with the FBI say the local sheriff’s office received a report that the victim was missing, and that while deputies were taking the report and preparing to issue an Amber Alert, they were notified by the National Parks Service of the homicide at Blue Ridge Parkway.
The FBI reported that National Parks officials had located a suspicious vehicle at Blue Ridge Parkway.
It was then that rangers discovered little Lila Pickering and her father, the FBI said.
The grandmother of the 6-year-old victim said Seth Pickering is mentally unstable and was in a mental ward leading up to the incident.
She shared that the family believes he was released from the ward too early.
“It is still a mystery how Lila got into his custody after school on Friday. The family doesn’t understand that either. They were notified at 2 a.m. that Lila was ‘deceased’ over the phone,” said her grandmother.
WHNS spoke with Lila’s mother, Ashley Pickering, who said she left Seth Pickering in May of 2015 because he was abusing her.
Frightened, Lila’s mother said she fled to Florida to be with her family.
Lila’s mother said that while her husband abused her, he’d never harmed their daughter in the past.
Months after fleeing her abusive relationship with Seth Pickering, Lila’s mother said she discovered her daughter had been placed into the hands of Child Protective Services.
She said she was never notified.
Ashley Pickering says she was in Florida trying to get custody of Lila.
She said her mother and sister had attempted to file for emergency custody of her child.
Lila’s mother says Lila was staying with a foster family and that on Friday, after Lila was picked up from school, she was abducted from the home some time around 5:45 p.m.
Lila Pickering’s grandmother said that she and Lila’s mother had planned to pick up the 6-year-old in a week to take her back to Florida.
Pickering was booked into the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office at about 10 p.m. Friday.
He requested a public defender and a judge said it would have to be one who is a specialist in capital punishment cases.
The FBI says an investigation is ongoing, and that because the crime occurred on federal property, the case may become eligible for federal prosecution.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to cover Lila’s funeral costs.