Dad kills 6-year-old daughter in front of park rangers, tells them ‘It’s what she wanted’

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A man stabbed his 6-year-old daughter to death in front of two park rangers along the Blue Ridge Parkway because he didn’t want them to take her away from him, federal authorities told the Asheville Citizen-Times Tuesday.

“She’s happier now,” Seth Pickering, 36, of Leicester, told rangers after they handcuffed him. “It’s what she wanted.”

The park rangers were investigating an illegal campsite when they pulled up on Pickering.  Instead, according to federal documents released Tuesday, Pickering stabbed his daughter in the heart.

Pickering, who faces a federal murder charge in the death of the first-grader, told authorities he feared his daughter would be taken from him.

“Ten minutes before [the ranger] got there, my daughter made me promise that they would never take her away from me again. I reacted the only way I knew that she could go to sleep without having to cry, ‘Daddy, I want to come home,’” Pickering told a sheriff’s detective. “I knew as soon as they showed up, they would take her away from me and never let me see her again.”

On Sept. 9, the day Lila died, Pickering picked her up from a home where she had lived for a month, placed there by the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services, while the parents battled over custody. He had rights to supervised visitation, but took Lila from the home.

A short time later, park rangers noticed a Dodge Avenger near mile marker 393 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After approaching Pickering, “Without warning,” according to federal documents, rangers “observed Pickering turn away from the rangers and make a lunging movement toward Lila who was standing a few feet behind him. Ranger Marsh heard an audible “thud-like” noise and a brief high-pitched wince or grunt sound coming from Lila, who then fell to the ground.”

The rangers saw Lila lying with a knife protruding from her chest, and drew their guns. They handcuffed the father and tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the child.



    This is incomprehensible. Obviously, it’s not possible to know all the details of this family’s life that led up to this little girl’s death, but I will take a wild guess that the father’s insanity, and his propensity to do something irrational and dangerous, was not a big secret to many people close to him. The legal system is supposed to protect kids. But often, mothers’ (and sometimes fathers’) concerns are dismissed by the legal system, leaving them to worry and fear in vain, because their concerns are either just blown off, or considered an attempt to “alienate” the child from the other parent. Social workers need to speak up and utilize their position and status to try and do more for the rights of exploited, abused and endangered children! No child should ever be handed over to somebody who’s suspected as being a potentially dangerous or neglectful caregiver. Animal activists are more productive than child advocates, by a long-shot! Sad, sad, sad. RIP little princess.


    WNEP you really need to do a better job of controlling this comments section and not allowing these disgusting, hurtful and inappropriate things be said and to then stay up… in fact at this point I think it might be a good decision to at least think about completely doing away with the comments section as nothing at all positive comes from it… JACKIEO, you are a horrible, despicable human being.. what is wrong with you?? this man just killed his 6 year old daughter by stabbing her in the chest and you think it’s OK to make an awful joke about that? you obviously have a very, very sad life and need help…

  • Jen

    Wow, completely insane. I doubt the rangers felt they were authorized to execute people on the spot, although I don’t think too many people would complain in this case. I wouldn’t. Pretty sure the little girl didn’t mean she’d rather die, and the fact that she wanted to stay with her dad (if anything the nutbar said was true) makes this all the more heartbreaking. We can only hope he’s never allowed near a child again and gets what’s coming to him. Maybe also realizes just what he’s done, not go to jail happy with what he did.

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