Candace Pickens, a 23-year-old North Carolina mother of one, apparently made a desperate-sounding phone call to her friend before she was found dead two hours later.
According to the Washington Post, her friend, Vanessa Peterson, spoke with Pickens, telling the paper that the expectant mother sounded uneasy over the phone.
“She asked if she could spend the night,” Peterson told the Post.
She added, “I said, ‘I told you that you and [her son] Zachaeus are always welcome to stay.’ She said she’d gotten into it with her boyfriend. Then all of the sudden she said, ‘Let me call you back, let me call you back.’ “
“She had some type of fear in her heart because she wouldn’t have called me unless something was wrong,” Peterson said.
A few hours later, Pickens was reportedly shot and killed. Her boyfriend, 24-year-old Nathaniel Dixon, is the primary suspect in the case.
Zachaeus was also found shot and reportedly lost his left eye, and he was listed in critical condition but is expected to make a full recovery.
— WLOS (@WLOS_13) May 19, 2016
Pickens had said that Dixon, who had a violent criminal history, wasn’t happy that Pickens—with whom she shared a residence—was having his child.
“She said that he had asked her to get an abortion,” Peterson recalled. “She wasn’t really feeling the idea. She told him he did not have to be a dad and that she would take care of the child herself. She took full responsibility and said she was okay with being a single mom.”
She added that “she told me she talked to her boyfriend’s brother, and he said she should listen to him.”
Four days before the murder, Pickens went to Peterson’s house to talk. Pickens said that her boyfriend turned violent, Peterson said.
“She said, ‘He personally told me that he will kill me if I don’t get an abortion,'” Peterson recalled. “I asked her if he was hitting her, and she said, ‘No,’ ” Peterson said. “Now, I know that people who are being abused usually get hit and don’t talk about it.”
Dixon reportedly fled to Ohio, was captured there, and he is now awaiting extradition back to North Carolina, the Citizen-Times reported. Police think that Dixon might have ties to a Los Angeles-area street gang.
He faces first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charges.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help with funeral costs, and it has raised more than $9,000.