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Neighbors react to murder of 5-year-old girl in Willard (Photo: Kirsten Gutierrez/WWAY)

PENDER  COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It is a murder that is rocking a small community in Pender County and the suspect is still out there. Last week a 5-year-old child died from injuries following an assault Monday morning.

“A five-year-old had their whole life ahead of them. Now it’s cut short,” neighbor, Bruce Kistler said.

According to the incident report, the 5-year-old child was last seen Sunday night November 12 at her home on Blackwater Drive in Willard. The child was found the next morning, she had been strangled and raped.

“I couldn’t believe it, I was shocked! You know, it’s something ya just don’t believe. You hear it happening somewhere else but not here,” Kistler said. “It’s not going to happen here.”

According to the incident report, the child was taken to the hospital and died just days later from her injuries.

Neighbors who knew the family said it is heartbreaking. Many of the people WWAY spoke to were left speechless.

“I think they got to be mentally ill or something because, I mean, a 5-year-old child, who, who? I just don’t know what to say,” Kistler said.

While there are many whispers in the once quite neighborhood, Kistler and his wife have their suspicions but can’t be certain.

“Everyone I think of, nah it can’t be them, no it couldn’t be them,” Kistler said. “No, you know?”

Neighbors said this is a “sick crime” and the person responsible deserves the most severe punishment allowed.

WWAY reached out to the Pender County Sheriff’s Office Monday afternoon, a spokesman said they are still investigating and had no comment regarding a person of interest in this case.

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Comment on this Story

  • B1BomberVB

    Right-on! With a stopover at the gallows or an electric chair! Or both killers! No “correctional institution” on Earth can correct them.

  • Allison Daech

    Now we have a 3 year old little girl takin the exact same day Sunday but a week later! She is still out there alone! the last time she was seen was Sunday evening from the Southwest area in Jacksonville I have a knot in my stomach and tears in my eyes cause it’s so close with similarities may god be your strength in your time and may god be with both girls because they sure need you now!!

    • Remah

      I agree with your thinking. I do not know why there was not more coverage on this. It has to be so difficult for the family to lose a child and have to wait for answers.

  • Paula Freeman-Lail

    This was my cousin on my daddy’s side. This is heartbreaking to say the least. I am so saddened by this! I pray that they find out who did this to this sweet girl and they pay for it. Please keep my extended family in your Prayers!

    • Renee Froggie Moore

      My prayers are with you and uour family

  • Emily Scott

    This little girl is a family member of ours. The Fields Family in Lumberton,NC would like as much attention to: “NO ARREST” being made in her murder and rape investigation. We would like an investigation that will lead to the arrest and punishment of the one(s) involved. This is so devasting and leaves us to feel nothing is being done at this time. Thank you for publicizing her story and helping her family find closure.

    • pamtroisi

      I’m so sorry for your loss,

      • Melody

        Does anyone think that the mother that shot her 14 year old and then killed herself has anything to do with this? This is a small town. Very unusual to have 2 strange cases of murder that aren’t related. Could very well be coincidence, but seems odd to me.

    • Melody

      I hate to be less than delicate, especially with the family members of a murdered child, but where was she “found”? All of the articles just say she was “found” but they don’t say where or by who.It seems that would be a huge piece to the puzzle as to who could be involved. Again, sorry for my bluntness.
      She was a beautiful little girl, now a beautiful angel. So very sorry for your loss

    • Remah

      I am so sorry. I pray for closure soon. I will share her story on my page. Once again, I am so terribly sorry for your loss. It is heartbreaking.

    • B1BomberVB

      When I was living in Wilmington, I attended a forum at a school in Pender County one evening where about 10 cops/ detectives from FBI, SBI, Sheriff’s Office, local PDs all spoke of their experiences catching criminals against children & shocking things which parents & our community needed to know to try to stay safe!

  • Shirley Lovitt

    This is so sad. Prayers for the family. God don’t like ugly !!!

  • guest45

    just think, any one of us may be living next door to this creep, hope he is taken off the streets permanently!

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