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A North Carolina man who stabbed his 6-year-old daughter Lila in the heart in front of two park rangers on Friday in an apparent attempt to keep them from taking her away from him said after he was arrested “She’s in a better place now. It’s what she wanted.

Veuer/screenshot

Veuer/screenshot

The rangers were in the process of investigating an illegal campsite when they encountered Seth Pickering, 36.

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Pickering responded why stabbing his daughter to death.

Here’s what Pickering allegedly told a sheriff’s detective after the stabbing:

Ten minutes before [the ranger] got there, my daughter made me promise that they would never take her away from me again. I reacted the only way I knew that she could go to sleep without having to cry, “Daddy, I want to come home.” I knew as soon as they showed up, they would take her away from me and never let me see her again.

The girl died at the scene after attempts were made by the rangers to resuscitate her.

According to the Citizen-Times, Pickering that day took the girl from a home she had been staying in for a month. She had been placed there by  Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services.

The girl’s mother, Ashley Pickering, explained that Lila was placed there after Seth Pickering hit another woman. Ashley and Seth Pickering were described as estranged.

Pickering took his daughter from the home Friday and killed her 90 minutes later.

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One of the rangers, identified as Ranger Cody Marsh, saw Pickering make a “lunging movement” and reported hearing a “thud-like” noise.

He, along with Ranger Brian Ruh, reported hearing a “brief high-pitched wince or grunt” and observed a knife in the girl’s chest.

Marsh asked Pickering why he killed his daughter.

Chillingly, the man replied, “Now they will never be able to take her away from me. She’s happier now… it’s what she wanted.”

Pickering now faces a federal murder charge.

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