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While police were in the process of issuing an Amber Alert Friday night for 6-year-old Lila Pickering, who had been abducted by her father an hour earlier, it was already too late.
Two rangers patrolling the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, North Carolina, saw the car belonging to Lila’s father, 36-year-old Seth Pickering, parked along the side of the road.
They found Seth with Lila, who was already deceased.
Ashley Pickering, Lila’s mother, told the press she split from Seth because he was abusive and then a custody battle ensued. Lila had been living with Seth until a violent fight occurred between Seth and another person. Afterwards, Lila was placed in child protective services and was currently living in what the case worker called “a great home.”
The circumstances behind how Seth was able to kidnap Lila from her protective home have not been released. Seth was charged with first-degree murder.
UPDATE 9/17/16 9:00 PM EST
According to newer reports, Seth took Lila from the home where she was staying. The current custodians of Lila begged him not to take her, citing that he will be thrown in jail. Seth shook his head and drove off.
Later the rangers spotted the car and approached. One ranger recalled seeing Seth leap at Lila without warning, hearing a thud, and a high-pitched scream. Lila fell back and had a knife sticking out of her chest.
When the ranger asked if he just stabbed the girl, Seth’s reply was eerie. “Now they will never be able to take her away from me. She’s happier now… it’s what she wanted.”