PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Community members and investigators continue the push for justice after the death of 5-year-old Paitin Fields. On Thursday, activists held a press conference demanding action from law enforcement. The Pender County Sheriff’s Office responded by releasing a statement that said the investigation into the homicide is “still a very active one.”
“There needs to be a lot more response from the community"
Four activists with the New Hanover Chapter of the National Black Leadership Caucus held a 30-minute news conference on Thursday afternoon about Fields’ death.
“What happened to Paitin Fields itself was traumatic. It was tragic, it was horrific, but what we think is more horrific is that no one has been charged with her murder," said Rhonda Sekhmet Ra.
Activists discussed the case and urged investigators to find and bring justice to Fields’ killer.
“There is a lot of discrepancy in the magnitude of this case and how people are responding," said Sekhmet Ra. "I think that there needs to be a lot more response from the community, from the Sheriff’s Department from the DA’s office, from the nation at large.”
Homicide investigation “still a very active one"
The Pender County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, in an effort to eschew concerns from the public, released a joint statement that said investigators continue to work to bring closure to the case.
“From the beginning of this investigation we stated that we wanted to be able to determine the truth surrounding Paitin’s death, while protecting the integrity of our investigation in a manner that will allow the correct individual(s) to face charges and ultimately be convicted for the crimes they have committed. This has not changed,” said Pender County Sheriff Alan W. Cutler in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.
Cutler said he understands that there are opinions circulating within and outside the community about why no one has been charged with Fields’ death.
“We continue to do everything possible to get justice for Paitin by keeping her case a priority so that her attacker may be brought to justice as soon as possible,” Cutler added.
According to a final autopsy report, Fields was taken to Pender Memorial Hospital on November 13, 2017, showing no vital signs as she entered the emergency department. She was later transferred to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where an exam at the hospital revealed evidence of sexual assault, the autopsy report stated
Fields eventually died on Nov. 16, 2017. The autopsy report concluded that she was strangled to death and was the victim of sexual abuse.
More than seven months after Paitin died, David Wesley Prevatte, Paitin’s uncle, was named as a suspect in her death after he allegedly threatened the lead investigator of the case while he was jailed on unrelated charges.
According to Prevatte’s arrest warrant, he allegedly stated “when I get out, (the investigator’s) got it coming to him and I will probably go back to jail” and “(the investigator) is coming to an end.”
During a jailhouse interview, Prevatte adamantly denied any involvement in Paitin’s death and claimed that “he was mad at the time” when he allegedly made the threats. He also added that the threats were not serious.
A series of search warrants unsealed in Dec. 2018 indicated that investigators seized several phone charger cords and various articles of clothing, among other items from Paitin’s home. Authorities also took cheek swabs from Prevatte and Paitin’s step-grandfather. Paitin’s autopsy report stated that the pair transported her to Pender Memorial on the morning of Nov. 13, 2017.
Two days after Paitin was declared brain dead, Prevatte failed a polygraph exam “miserably” on Nov. 15, 2017, according to the search warrants. Paitin’s step-grandfather passed the exam.
But by far the most potentially revealing information was found in search warrants filed in December 2017 for information on Prevatte’s three known Facebook accounts. Those warrants list several factors that support the suspicion of Prevatte’s involvement in Paitin’s murder, including no visible signs of remorse, a “violent temper,” and possible racial motivations – the first inklings of a potential motive.
Ten months later, Prevatte remains in the Pender County Jail and has not been officially charged in connection with her death.
District Attorney Ben David insists that Paitin’s death remains under active investigation by the Pender County Sheriff’s Office, as the agency continues to follow leads.
“This case is very important to the District Attorney’s Office,” David said in Thursday afternoon’s statement. “Consistent with our police-prosecutor team approach, I have been apprised of the investigation since its early stages. We have conducted a critical case review of this case with senior prosecutors in our office and other law enforcement agencies. We will continue to review all evidence as it comes to light.”
Anyone who has information about Paitin’s death is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 910-259-1212.