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Over four years after Paitin Fields' death, Pender County Sheriff announces arrest, murder charges for former suspect

Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler announces an arrest has been made in the 2017 murder of 5-year-old Paitin Fields.
Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler announces an arrest has been made in the 2017 murder of 5-year-old Paitin Fields.

Five-year-old girl Paitin Fields was murdered in 2017 in Pender County. Her uncle, David Wesley Prevatte, was named as a suspect after threatening the lead investigator in Paitin's death — but was never formally charged, until now.

November 13, 2017, Paitin Fields was sexually assaulted and strangled; she died in the hospital three days later.

At the time, authorities did not formally charge anyone — but did name Paitin's uncle, David Wesley Prevatte, then 19, after the Sheriff's office claimed Prevatte threatened the lead detective on the Paitin murder case in a phone call to his mother in April of 2018.

Related: Uncle of Paitin Fields named as a suspect in the toddler's death (WECT)

Prevatte later served about ten months for an unrelated charge — but otherwise there was little movement on the case, although public interest in the case remained intense.

Today, Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler announced that Prevatte had been charged with Paitin's murder.

"Today I am announcing the Pender County Sheriff's Office secured a warrant for arrest for David Wesley Prevatte on the following charges," Cutler said during a brief press conference today.

Cutler said Prevatte was charged with First Degree Murder, First Degree Statutory Rape, Statutory Sex Offense with Child by Adult. According to Cutler, Prevatte was taken into custody by the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. Prevatte will be extradited back to Pender County to face prosecution.

Cutler did not make any further comments on the investigation and did not take questions.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.