Local News

Seymour Johnson officer, wife face child abuse charges

Posted June 17, 2013

— An officer at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and his wife have been charged with child abuse and neglect, Goldsboro police said.

Air Force Maj. Erin James Pickel, 44, and Jennifer Kay Pickel, 43, both of 527 Forest Hill Drive, surrendered Friday and were each charged with five counts of felony intentional child abuse and five counts of felonious child neglect. They were released after posting $25,000 secured bonds.

The charges are related to incidents involving two adopted children, a 15-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, dating to 2008, police said.

The boy was adopted in 2005 and the girl in 2006, said Maj. Al King of the Goldsboro Police Department. The Pickels lived in South Carolina at the time.

The Wayne County Department of Social Services received an anonymous tip early this month about alleged abuse, and the agency called in police to investigate, King said.

Police: Children forced to stay in backyard playhouse Police: Children forced to stay in backyard playhouse

Both teens had cuts and bruises, King said. They also were allegedly locked out of the house and forced to stay in a playhouse in the backyard.

Neighbors said they never saw the Pickels, whose home is fairly isolated, but they said they had seen children bicycling and skateboarding in the neighborhood.

King said the Pickels home-schooled their children.

Both teens and two other children have been removed from the home and placed in protective custody, King said. He didn't provide the ages of the other two children and said he didn't know if they were adopted as well.

A fifth child, who is over age 18, still lives in the Pickel home, he said.


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  • ftpc99 Jun 24, 2013

    carolinaprincess62 you are absolutely correct. Many years ago I had custody of my two children ages 7 and 9. My 7 yr old son was skateboarding in front of the house waiting for his mother to come pick them up for summer visitation and wiped out onto the curb that resulted in a big bruise on his upper thigh. His mother convinced them to tell a doctor I abused him so they could stay with her. I was not arrested but immediately lost custody without even an investigation, "for the safety of the children." Being accused and convicted are two very different things. Put down the pitchforks and torches and let the facts come out.

  • carolinaprincess62 Jun 18, 2013

    I don't usually defend anyone that is accused of child abuse or neglect. However, before you throw these people to the woods, let's look at a few things. They are teenagers, they were adopted at a later age. Were they foster children? What kind of home life did they have before being adopted? Is there a possibility these children may not be telling the truth? Do you think maybe they are rebelling? For all I know, these people may have abused these kids but they may not have. If they did, they deserve the public lynching but if they didn't, their lives are truly changed forever in a bad way. It takes special people to foster older kids, it takes even more special people to adopt those children.

  • dwr1964 Jun 17, 2013

    Since there is a connection to South Carolina, as noted in this article, have authorities there been contacted? Were there any reports of abuse in SC? Is the Air Force investigating this along with the city of Goldsboro? There is so much more of this story that is not being told.

  • Brogden Jun 17, 2013

    signofthetimes - it says "allegedly" because those are charges only at this time. Until there is a trial - if there ever is one - and the charges are found to be true, that is the only term that can be used. Whatever, this is a very sad story.

  • question_why Jun 17, 2013

    Seems like if the charges relate to incidents that date back to 2008 that there would be more info about the actual abuse and neglect.

  • dontstopnow Jun 17, 2013

    To begin with, there were cuts and bruises but no comment in this article speculating how that happened and then the thing of locking them out to sleep in a playhouse in the back yard, well come on people the article says "allegedly locked out of the house", which means it is an accusation not a fact. I think the story is a bit premature.

  • Naysayer Jun 17, 2013

    Couple of sick puppies, hope he loses his pension.

  • marciamal1 Jun 17, 2013

    homeschooling has nothing to do with neglect or abuse of a child - it simply states that the children had cuts/bruises - which clearly indicates that the parents of these children abused them - glad to hear Social Services is doing their job by removing them from these two.

  • pja1357 Jun 17, 2013

    Absolutely horrible!! Thank goodness someone took action for those poor kids!!!

  • happy2.0 Jun 17, 2013

    Spirit, that is not what the woman is saying. In cases where there IS abuse within the home and the kids don't go to public school, there is no one outside the family to see the abuse. Hence why mm23 states there should be more oversight. I agree. Yes, 99.9% of homeschooled children are loved and cared for, but if a bit of oversight saves one child from starvation and/or physical or emotional abuse, isn't it worth it?