A Fayetteville, North Carolina, mother who had just given birth to a baby girl should have been celebrating her new arrival. Instead, she was frantically trying to find out where her daughter was.
Candice Freeman's four-day-old baby, Genesis Freeman, was missing along with her two-year-old sister, Serenity Freeman. The mother went to a doctor's appointment and came home to find her children were gone. She had left them with their father, Tillman Freeman, who was also gone, according to The New York Daily News.
Freeman called the police to report her missing children and a search ensued. Tillman was located after employees at a doctor's office in a neighboring town contacted police to “report a man acting suspiciously outside the building.”
As ABC7 reports, Tillman was arrested at the scene. He refused to tell police where his daughters were once he was in custody. Tillman was charged with two counts of child neglect and child abuse; but that was just the beginning of the charges the man would come to face.
Authorities later found Genesis and Serena's bodies in the woods— they were both stabbed to death.
Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin described what it felt like to find the small children:
“It's kind of hard to find the words to describe what this feels like. I know people read it, I know people see the story and hear about it, but to be out here on the scene and actually see this stuff, to see these children lifeless and brutally stabbed...I don't care how many years you've been in it. How many times you've been in it or seen things, this was not a good experience. Everybody's taking this real hard. Our heart goes out to the family, to the mother.”
The reason the children were killed allegedly stems from their father's jealousy. According to WTKR, Tillman believed his wife was cheating on him.
Hoke County Sheriff Peterkin said that it started as a domestic dispute between Tillman and his wife:
“All this was thoughts as a dispute or domestic between him and his wife, with accusations of cheating or even the kids not being his.”
James McGeachy, who is engaged to Freeman's sister, personally witnessed Tillman's jealous rage. McGeachy spoke to The Fayetteville Observer about that anger:
“Tillman would argue about it and stuff like that. And he would come talk to me about it. And I was telling him, ‘Man, Candice ain’t cheating on you. It ain’t no way she’s cheating on you.’"
Peterkin described what authorities believe happened to the two girls:
“The kids were in the vehicle. He killed them in the vehicle. A lunge-type of knife, hunting knife, something you would use, you know, that’s what we believe was the weapon.”
According to ABC11, Genesis and Serena's aunt, Marvina Smith, said Freeman attempted to kill herself after finding out her daughters had been stabbed to death.
Smith also shared her heartbreak and her anger towards the man accused of killing her nieces:
“I want him to suffer. The way them kids suffered. I want him to suffer.”
According to The Fayetteville Observer, Tillman already has a long rap sheet— he has served time in prison for robbery, assault, and burglary. He was also previously placed on probation for drug and theft charges.
Tillman has now been charged with two counts of first degree murder for killing his four-day-old and two-year-old children. He is being held without bail.
As for Freeman, she is currently recovering in the hospital.