Local News

Wayne County Community Saddened By News Of Murdered 5-Year-Old

Posted May 21, 2002

— Wayne County investigators are looking for the killer of a 5-year-old girl. The news of her murder has saddened the entire community.

Many residents in Wayne County flocked to the creek where the body of Precious Whitfield was found. Resident Billy Toler said he does not know why someone would want to hurt someone so young.

"A 5-year-old girl is innocent. She is not able to defend herself," neighbor Billy Toler said.

"Because it was a child, everyone is upset and everyone is concerned. We want to help the family anyway we possibly can," said Rev. Ed Miles.

Whitfield's body was found by a man and two boys fishing in the local creek.

The

Wayne County Sheriff's Office

has assigned half of its 12-person force to the case. One detective has been assigned to only answer phones.

"We've had dozens of phone calls from the public giving information. Some of the information has been very valuable in that it substantiates some of the suspicions that we have," said Maj. Glenn Odom of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

The girl was last seen Friday night playing outside her grandmother's home in Patetown. Her body was found seven miles away, along with the bike she was last seen riding.

The family noticed she was missing around 6 p.m. Friday, but did not report it until Saturday morning. The sheriff's office set up a command post, with volunteer searchers going door to door, sending boats and dive teams to ponds, and using four-wheelers to search through woods in the Patetown area.

Detectives hope to talk to neighbors again, in the hopes someone may have seen something that will help lead them to Precious' killer.

"We thank the public for the great help that we've had, and once again, we ask them to call us because we need their help," Odom said.

The sheriff's office said they do not consider anyone in the immediate family as suspects.

Because of the condition of the girl's body, investigators said there is no obvious sign of how she was killed.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office at (919) 731-1481 or Crime Stoppers at (919) 735-2255.

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