The family of a pregnant woman who was murdered says she was involved in an abusive relationship and was executed for not getting an abortion.
Candace Pickens, 23, was found dead by a jogger in an Asheville, North Carolina park on May 12.
She had been shot in the face at point-blank range – executed – and left for dead alongside her three-year-old son, Zachaeus, who also suffered the same fate.
Authorities declared Pickens, who was working at a restaurant and studying at a community college, dead at the gruesome scene.
Her son was taken to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.
After her vicious murder, police say Dixon fled from Asheville to Columbus, Ohio, where he was arrested last week.
WLOS reported that when he was taken into custody, Columbus police rescued a 21-year-old female hostage.
Authorities said he is currently waiting to be extradited back to North Carolina, where he is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree murder of an unborn child and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.
The investigation into her murder is ongoing, as they can’t confirm whether her refusal to undergo an abortion was a motive, police say.
‘The Asheville Police Department does not provide comment on an offender’s motive because that information is sensitive to the case itself,’ Christina Hallingse, a spokeswoman for the Asheville Police Department, said.
‘Our responsibility at this point in the investigation is to present the best case possible to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution of the suspected offender.’
It’s unclear as to how far along Pickens was in her pregnancy, but the medical examiner confirmed she was pregnant at the time of her death, WLOS reported.
Dixon shared three posts to Facebook in what appears to be an attempt to show that he was grieving her death before he was arrested in Columbus for her murder.
‘Candace pickens was pregnant with my child just so y’all stupid mfs know this morning i lost my child too,’ he wrote on May 12.
Hours later, he shared two private videos of the mother on his page and hashtagged them with ‘#Ripbabymamaloveu’ and ‘#candaceuwillbemissed’.
On May 15, Dixon’s last status reads ‘Who support do I have????’
As some showed support for Dixon on his Facebook page, others commented about how he has been accused of killing Pickens and their unborn child alongside her toddler son.
Relatives have set up a GoFundMe page to raise $20,000 for her funeral and to help with the hospital bills for her son.
Candace was an amazing mother, friend and person,’ Vanessa Peterson wrote.
‘She was always smiling and made the best out of life. She had recently found out she was pregnant and was murdered because she refused an abortion.
‘So many loved ones have lost such an amazing person and more importantly an innocent child has not only witnessed his mother’s murder the day after his third birthday.’
Dixon has not been assigned an attorney as of yet.
Pickens’ family said that she loved being a mother to her son Zachaeus.
‘When she found out she was pregnant, she was scared at first,’ her aunt, Irene Jenny Pickens, told the Post. ‘But once she had that baby, it was so natural for her.
‘She loved being a mother. And no matter what she was going through, I think he was the one thing that kept her going.’