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Justice News

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Federal Indictment Charges Seth Pickering With First Degree Murder

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – United States Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced today that a federal grand jury sitting in Asheville has returned a criminal indictment against Seth Pickering, charging him with one count of first degree murder for allegedly killing his daughter, Lila Pickering.  Seth Pickering, 36, of Leicester, N.C. was arrested on state charges on September 9, 2016 for Lila Pickering’s murder.  On September 13, 2016, a criminal complaint was filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, bringing federal charges against Seth Pickering in connection with Lila Pickering’s death.

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 join U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.

The criminal bill of indictment alleges that on September 9, 2016, Seth Pickering did unlawfully kill a human being within the boundaries of the Blue Ridge Parkway, that person being his daughter, Lila Pickering, who had not attained the age of 18 years and was under his care and control.  The indictment further alleges that Seth Pickering killed Lila Pickering willfully, deliberately, maliciously and with premeditation, and in the perpetration of child abuse, that being knowingly and intentionally causing death and bodily injury to a child.


Seth Pickering is currently in federal custody.  He is scheduled to appear in federal court today.  The penalty for first-degree murder is life in prison or death.  The indictment includes a Notice of Special Sentencing Factors which could permit the United States to seek the death penalty.  The Department of Justice has not yet announced whether it will seek the death penalty.


An indictment 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. 


            Assistant U.S. Attorneys Don Gast and David Thorneloe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville are prosecuting the case.

Violent Crimes
Updated October 5, 2016