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North Carolina woman executed for refusing to abort

by | May 18, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

Candace Pickens and three-year-old Zachaeus.

Candace Pickens and three-year-old Zachaeus.

The story was painful almost beyond belief. The headline in this morning’s Washington Post captured the tragedy in all its poignancy:

’She loved being a mother’: Pregnant woman executed for refusing abortion, family says” 

Peter Holley tells us that Candace Pickens “had fallen in love with being a mother to her little boy, Zachaeus.” Her Facebook was filled with posts that documented the closeness of Pickens and her three-year-old son whom she lived with in Asheville, North Carolina.

When she became pregnant with Zachaeus, “[S]he was scared at first,” the 23-year-old’s aunt, Irene Jenny Pickens, told The Washington 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.”

But while her love for her child and for motherhood was common knowledge, Holley tells us Dixon kept secret that she was in an abusive relationship with Nathaniel Elijah Pickens, a man with a violent background and possibly criminal ties.

“He found out she was pregnant and he wanted her to abort the baby,” Irene Jenny Pickens told Holley. “She would never do that. It wasn’t an option for her, and that’s what sparked the violence.”

Did she have any suspicions? “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,” Pickens said.

According to Holley

Her body was found early on the morning of May 12 by a jogger in a park in Asheville. She had been shot in the head at point-blank range, police said — executed.

Beside her, investigators said, was Zachaeus, badly injured but clinging to life.

ABC affiliate WLOS reported that members of the close-knit family said Zachaeus has lost his left eye and has a 50 percent chance of survival.

Holley reported that Dixon was arrested last week, after fleeing to Columbus, Ohio. “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.”

The unborn baby, whose age the medical examiner was unable to determine, died along with Candace Pickens.

According to her aunt, last summer Pickens was thrilled to take Zachaeus to the beach for the first time.

“She was the sweetest, loving girl,” Irene Jenny Pickens told The Post.

Categories: Crime