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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Federal Complaint Charges Buncombe County Man With Murder

ASHEVILLE, N.C. B A federal criminal complaint was filed today charging Seth Willis Pickering, 36, of Leicester, N.C. with murder for the death of his daughter, Lila Pickering, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division; Neal D. Labrie, Chief Ranger of the Blue Ridge Parkway; and Sheriff Van Duncan of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.

The affidavit filed with the criminal complaint alleges that late afternoon on September 9, 2016, Seth Pickering took Lila Pickering from the residence of the custodian where the victim had been placed temporarily by the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  Seth Pickering was only authorized to have supervised visitation with his daughter.  The complaint alleges that the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call by the victim’s custodian regarding a missing juvenile, and were in the process of gathering information to initiate a report and issue an alert to law enforcement agencies.  Meanwhile, two U.S. Park Rangers on routine patrol on the Blue Ridge Parkway (the “Parkway”) observed Seth Pickering’s vehicle parked along the shoulder of the Parkway near mile marker 393.  The Rangers also observed a male and a juvenile female (later determined to be Seth and Lila Pickering) walking down a steep embankment.  Knowing that there were no trails, picnic areas, or camp sites in the area, the Rangers began to investigate.  The complaint alleges that as one of the Rangers approached the area where Seth Pickering and his daughter were located, Seth Pickering stabbed Lila Pickering with a knife, killing her.

Seth Pickering is currently in state custody and is expected to appear in U.S. District Court on the federal charges upon his transfer to federal custody.

A complaint is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Rose thanked the FBI, the National Park Service and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation of the case.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Don Gast and David Thorneloe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.


Updated September 13, 2016