On May 12, a 23-year-old pregnant woman and her 3-year-old son were found, both with gunshot wounds to the face, after a runner saw them in an Asheville, N.C., park.
The woman, Candice Pickens, was pronounced dead at the scene, while her son, Zachaeus Waters, was rushed to a local hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery, WLOS reports.
According to reports, the toddler lost his left eye and has about a 50-50 chance of survival.
Police arrested Nathaniel Elijah Dixon, 24, Pickens' boyfriend and the father of her unborn child, according to the Washington Post.
"He found out she was pregnant and he wanted her to abort the baby," Pickens' aunt Irene Jenny Pickens told the Post. "She would never do that. It wasn't an option for her, and that's what sparked the violence. You could tell things were going on between them based on what she was posting on Facebook—but I don't think anyone expected anything like this."
Dixon was captured in Columbus, Ohio, and is waiting to be extradited back to North Carolina, where he has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree murder of an unborn child and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.
Irene Jenny Pickens told the Post that Candice Pickens loved being a mother to her son, Zachaeus.
"When she found out she was pregnant, she was scared at first," her aunt said. "But once she had that baby, it was so natural for her. She loved being a mother. And no matter what she was going through, I think he was the one thing that kept her going."