Candace Pickens, 23, was a great mother to her 3 year old son, Zachaeus. Her Aunt, Irene Jenny Pickens, told The Washington Post:
Unknown to her family members, Candace Pickens was in a volatile and abusive relationship with Nathaniel Dixon, her boyfriend, a secret she managed to keep hidden from some a lot of people who knew her in Asheville, N.C., where she lived.
Her boyfriend, Nathaniel Elijah Dixon, had a violent history that included attempted robbery and allegations of domestic violence against another woman with whom he had a child, according to the Citizen-Times. In addition to Dixon’s extensive criminal history, police think he has possible ties to a Los Angeles street gang.
When Pickens recently discovered that she was pregnant with Dixon’s child, but Dixon who didn’t want to be a father to another child suggested she abort it but abortion was not an option, she told friends and family members, she would have a second child.
However, early in the morning on May 12, her body was found by a jogger in a park in Asheville. She had been shot in the head at point-blank range, police said -executed. Beside her, was Zachaeus her son who had also been shot in the head but was clinging to life.
Just one day after his birthday, the 3-year-old had witnessed his mother being shot in the face before he endured the same fate and was left for dead.
Pickens was declared dead at the scene. Her son was taken to a hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery; he is in stable but critical condition, police said.
Mekia Waters, the child’s grandmother, said that Zachaeus was shot in the head and lost his left eye. On Wednesday, she said:
“My grandson is in stable condition and doing great and he has the doctors surprised.” “He’s moving his arms and legs and he’s doing more than what people expected.” “He’s talking, he asked for juice and he said ‘daddy,’” she added. “He even made his own song up about juice.”
Dixon, who also lives in Asheville, fled to Columbus, Ohio, where he was arrested last week, authorities said. Columbus police also rescued a 21-year-old female hostage when Dixon was taken into custody.
The 24-year-old is awaiting extradition back to North Carolina, where he has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, authorities said.
To Pickens’s friends and relatives, the motive was clear.
“He found out she was pregnant and he wanted her to abort the baby,” Irene Jenny Pickens told The Post. “She would never do that. It wasn’t an option for her, and that’s what sparked the violence.”
“You could tell things were going on between them based on what she was posting on Facebook — but I don’t think anyone expected anything like this.”
However, a spokeswoman for the Asheville Police Department, Christina Hallingse, said authorities can’t confirm if Pickens’s apparent refusal to undergo an abortion was a motive in her killing.
A medical examiner confirmed that Pickens was pregnant at the time of her death, police said but that he didn’t know how far along she was in her pregnancy.
Given the medical examiner’s finding, police also charged Dixon with first-degree murder of an unborn child.
On Facebook, hours before his capture in Columbus, Dixon shared three posts — including two private videos — about Pickens
Using hashtags including #Ripbabymamaloveu and #candaceuwillbemissed. He wrote:
“Candace pickens was pregnant with my child…this morning i lost my child too,” he wrote. Many of his Facebook friends voiced support — although some pointed out that Dixon has been accused of killing the woman and unborn child he claimed to love, and nearly killing her firstborn son, as well.
The horrific double shooting shocked local residents.
Keith Ogden, senior pastor of Hill Street Baptist Church, said:
“Not only take this young mother’s life, cut down in her prime, cannot raise her son now, but then you turn around and shoot the child in the head,”. “That’s evil.”
Ogden held a memorial for Pickens at his church on Saturday.
During the ceremony, Pickens’s father addressed the crowd, “saying he doesn’t have bitterness in his heart, but forgiveness.”