Memorial service held for young NC girl stabbed to death by dad on Blue Ridge Parkway

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – A memorial service was held Saturday for a little girl who was stabbed by her father in front of a park ranger in Buncombe County.

Six-year-old Lila Pickering was stabbed on the Blue Ridge Parkway by her 36-year-old dad, Seth Willis Pickering on Sept. 9.


The service was held at the Biltmore Church West Asheville campus, according to Lila Pickering’s pastor, Jeremy Woods.

The Celebration of Life service was held from 11 a.m. to noon.

RELATED: NC dad stabbed and killed daughter in front of Park Ranger, FBI says

Woods said the church had a close relationship with Lila and the school she attended, Johnston Elementary School.

Seth Willis Pickering is charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty in the case.

Lila was killed inside the park, which requires the FBI to investigate her death.

The FBI says the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a missing person for Lila Pickering on Friday around 5:45 p.m. Lila had been taken by her father, officials told the Asheville Citizen-Times.

While taking the report and preparing to issue an AMBER Alert, they were notified by National Park Service of the discovery of the girl in a 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 made an arrest immediately.

The medical examiner said Lila died from a stab wound to the heart and lung.

The affidavit says Pickering took Lila from the home of the custodian where she had been placed temporarily by the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

It says Seth Pickering was only authorized to have supervised visitation with his daughter.

It says Seth Pickering was only authorized to have supervised visitation with his daughter.

The custodian said “Seth, please don’t do this, they will put you in jail.”

They say Pickering just shook his head and got in the car and drove off.

RELATED: NC dad killed young daughter along Blue Ridge Parkway, authorities say

Investigators were in the process of putting together an alert when two U.S. Park Rangers on routine patrol on the Blue Ridge Parkway (the “Parkway”) saw Pickering’s vehicle parked along the shoulder of the Parkway near mile marker 393.

The Rangers saw a Seth and Lila Pickering walking down a steep embankment.

At this point, Rangers didn’t know anything about Pickering taking his daughter or that police were looking for him.

The rangers knew there were no trails, picnic areas, or camp sites in the area, so they investigated.

They parked their vehicle and watched the man and girl from the roadway.

They say Pickering cut some underbrush and built a small fire.

Around 6:50 p.m. the Rangers started approaching Pickering, because it was an illegal campsite and fire.

As one of the Rangers approached the area, they heard Pickering tell his daughter, “Don’t worry honey, we will when the cops leave.”

When one of the Rangers got within 20-25 feet of the dad and daughter, Pickering said “Police!”

When the Ranger got closer and started to greet him, Pickering said “It’s going fine, nothing going on.”

The Ranger said Pickering lunged at the girl without warning and they heard a thud-like noise and a brief high-pitched wince from the girl.

Lila fell to the ground and Pickering turned back toward them and raised his hands in the air, according to the Ranger.

The Ranger shouted at the dad, “Did you just stab her?”

The Ranger said they didn’t recall if Pickering responded to the question.

The Rangers said they drew their guns and saw Lila lying on the ground with a knife in her chest.

They tried to save her, but couldn’t.

Rangers asked Pickering why he would kill his daughter.

Pickering told them, “Now they will never be able to take her away from me. She’s happier now… it’s what she wanted,” according to the Ranger.

CBS North Carolina contributed to this report.

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