Groups bring new attention, demand justice in Pender girl’s unsolved murder

(L to R) Sonya Patrick, Josiah Bennetone III, Rhonda Sekhmet Ra, Rev. Dante Murphy (Andrew James/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s been 16 months since we learned about the death of a child in Pender County.

Paitin Fields’s rape and murder remains unsolved. That was also the focus of a news conference this afternoon.

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Law enforcement has a great deal of information in this case. They have evidence from search warrants, an autopsy, rape kit, but what they don’t have is an arrest.

“The worst crimes you could commit were committed to this five-year-old baby,” said Sonya Patrick withe southeast chapter of the National Black Leadership Caucus.

Those crimes remain unsolved now under two Pender County Sheriff’s administrations. The local chapters of the National Black Leadership Caucus and the Pender County NAACP came together to put the office on notice.

“What is even more horrific is that no one yet has been charged for her murder,” said Rhonda Sehkmet Ra with the Caucus.

Paitin died in late November of 2017. These groups remaining mostly silent during all of our investigation and new developments in the case. What brought them out? The recent evidence of sealed search warrants on the home where Paitin died that were made public.

“Apparently they’ve done a good job in the past year of covering up everything,” said local Caucus executive director Josiah Bennetone III.

Sheriff Alan Cutler responded saying in a statement that the case remains active and that they’re trying to find out the truth while “protecting the integrity” of the investigation.

“There is no reason why some of the information that has been uncovered has been kept from the public,” said Rev. Dante Murphy with the Pender NAACP.

The public search warrants showed that detectives interview Paitin’s sister. They found that her body was possibly tampered with according to what her sister said she was wearing before they went to bed contrasting with what she was reportedly wearing when she arrived at the hospital.

The warrants also revealed that Paitin’s uncle, the person of interest in the murder investigation, had symbols memorializing groups like the KKK in his room in the home where Fields was allegedly raped.

The county NAACP is going as far as saying this murder needs to be named a hate crime.

“Yes I think it should be taken that seriously,” said Rev. Murphy.

The two groups remain hopeful in the new sheriff, but are critical of how the investigation has gone up to this point.

“We will be giving this more and more awareness, but in order for her to get justice, it has to start in Pender County,” said Patrick.

District Attorney Ben David’s office also spoke in the joint statement with Sheriff Cutler.  David said outside agencies and his senior prosecutors conducted a case review of the murder investigation. Both offices continue to ask the public for help with information.