PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Pender County authorities said Friday that a 5-year-old child died after possibly being assaulted.
According to a news release from the Pender County Sheriff's Office, medical staff at Pender Memorial Hospital contacted the sheriff's office at 6 a.m. last Monday regarding a female child in the emergency room. She was in critical condition with injuries consistent with an assault. Police records show the girl was strangled and raped.
She died as a result of those injuries on Wednesday.
Neighbors said they were shocked and devastated by the girl's death. Bruce Kistler said he couldn't imagine someone wanting to hurt a child.
"She had her whole life ahead of her and they cut it short," he said. "You hear about it all over the country, but you never think it's going to happen in your own backyard."
Stacey Swinson said as a mother, she was concerned to see so many officers at the home last week.
"I wanted to know what was going on just to make sure that all the kids in the neighborhood were safe, including my own, and that there wasn't someone going around that would do this to another child," she said.
The case is being investigated as a homicide. No other information was released.