BURGAW, NC (WECT) - The North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office has determined that 5-year-old Paitin Fields of Burgaw was strangled to death and was also a victim of sexual abuse.
According to the final autopsy report, Fields had no vital signs when she was carried into the Pender Memorial Hospital emergency department on the morning of Nov. 13, 2017. The report cites medical records of the family saying the girl had a "several day history of an evolving upper respiratory infection." It goes on to mention other "reports" saying Fields had been well the day before being found unresponsive and seizing by her uncle.
The medical examiner's report says the emergency room staff "noticed what appeared to be ligature marks on her neck, consistent with strangulation."
Fields was transferred to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment. The ME's report says an exam at NHRMC showed evidence of sexual assault.
Over the next day, the report says Fields "lost her remaining cranial nerve reflexes and was progressing towards brain death." On Nov. 15, tests showed "no electrical activity in the brain."
The autopsy report signed May 25, 2018, by Dr. Karen Kelly says in its summary: "Given the autopsy and toxicological findings, it is my opinion that Paitin Fields' cause of death was due...to ligature strangulation." It also lists a comment saying: "The presence of acute hemorrhage...indicate sexual trauma".
The Pender County Sheriff's Office has investigated the case as a homicide since Fields' death. No charges have been announced.
Prior to the final report being released, a sheriff's office spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing and there is "no additional information to report."
The autopsy and medical examiner's report can be found in the PDFs below.