Detectives are investigating Destini Bullock's death as a homicide and expect to file charges, police spokesman Chris Ball said. Her stepfather, Dontavious Washington, 23, already faces a charge of felony child abuse inflicting serious injury.
The state Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Earlier, police said she had traumatic head injuries.
Neighbors said they are devastated by the girl's death.
"It hurts my heart because I have nieces and nephews her age," neighbor Carolyn Chavis said. "That little baby was innocent, and she didn't deserve what she went through."
Destini went into cardiac arrest at her family's house at 130 Booth Ave. early Thursday. She was taken to Maria Parham Medical Center in Henderson, then sent to UNC Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill.
Washington was placed in the Vance County jail under a $125,000 bond.
The State Bureau of Investigation was assisting Henderson police in the investigation of abuse.