The family of a young pregnant woman who was found in a park shot to death says she was killed by her boyfriend because she refused to get an abortion. The body of Candace Pickens, 23, was discovered by a jogger in an Asheville, N.C., park last week. Pickens had been shot in the face from point-blank range, execution style, police said. Lying next to Pickens’ body was her 3-year-old son, Zachaeus. According to authorities, he had also been shot in the face and left for dead. Just a day after turning 3, Zachaeus was clinging to life, after watching his mother brutally shot death.
Zachaeus was rushed into emergency surgery at the hospital and doctors were able to save his life, authorities said. He’s now in stable condition, but lost his left eye and has been given only a 50 percent chance of survival. His mother was pronounced dead at the scene.
The culprit authorities arrested is Nathaniel Elijah Dixon, Pickens’ boyfriend. He fled to Ohio and was arrested there last week, holding a woman captive, officials said. Dixon, 24, who also lives in Asheville, has been charged with first-degree murder and is awaiting extradition back to North Carolina.
According to Pickens’ relatives, Dixon, who has a lengthy and violent criminal history and possible gang ties, physically and emotionally abused her. When he learned Pickens was pregnant with his child, they said, he ordered her to have an abortion. But she refused, and her family believes that was the motive for murder in this case. “He found out she was pregnant and he wanted her to abort the baby,” Irene Jenny Pickens, Candace’s aunt, told The Washington Post. “She would never do that. It wasn’t an option for her, and that’s what sparked the violence.” Police won’t comment on the motive, citing an ongoing murder investigation.
Irene Jenny Pickens said that when her niece initially learned she was pregnant with Zachaeus she was scared about the prospect of motherhood, and it took her time to come into her own as a mother. But in the three short years they had together, she developed a deep bond with Zachaeus. “She loved being a mother. And no matter what she was going through, I think he was the one thing that kept her going,” Irene Jenny Pickens said. Pickens’ plight is one of horrific human tragedy, but it will also be another grim statistic. New data released late last year showed that more than 1,600 American women were murdered by men in 2013, the latest year figures are available for, and the majority of those killings were carried out by intimate partners using firearms.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.