Salemburg, N.C. — The death of an 11-year-old girl who was found unresponsive in her bed in Salemburg on Sept. 6 has been ruled a homicide by the Sampson County medical examiner.
The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday they are now investigating the case as a homicide.
At the time of her death, a family member told WRAL that the father of Mckenzie Mae Sessoms found her unresponsive when he tried to wake her for school, and she appeared to have suffocated.
"You have a healthy 11-year-old girl who is dead. That's not natural," said Cpl. Marcus Smith of the sheriff's office. "That's why we've been treating it as a suspicious death since then."
Sessoms was a fifth-grader at Salemburg Elementary School. She lived on Hairr Lane with her father and two adult brothers.
Her teachers said Sessoms loved horses and was popular with her classmates. One teacher, who did not want to be identified, said news of the death has left her many questions.
"I could not sleep. I have been restless for days," she said.
Family members declined to comment Friday.
Lakewood High School planned to honor Sessoms during their football game Friday night. Family members asked spectators to wear pink and purple, the girl's favorite colors.