Man charged with killing pregnant woman, unborn child

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PIKEVILLE — Authorities have filed murder charges against a man accused of killing a woman and her unborn child.

James Isaac Jones Jr., 34, of 304 Sweeten Branch Drive northwest of Pikeville, is charged with an open count of murder in 29-year-old Cassia Renee Duval’s death along with one count of murder of an unborn child, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday. 

Duval’s body was discovered Jan. 29 in a car that had slammed into a ditch near the intersection of Pikeville-Princeton Road and Nahunta Road outside Pikeville. Deputies said last month that Duval’s death was being investigated as a homicide.

Jones and Duval “lived together at the same address,” Detective Capt. Shawn Harris said in a Thursday news release.

Investigators have not described the cause of death publicly but have said the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner provided a preliminary autopsy report.

Jones was arrested without incident and was booked into the Wayne County Detention Center in Goldsboro without bond.

“The sheriff’s office would like to thank the citizens and witnesses that have come forward and provided information on this case,” Harris said. 

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act designated murder of an unborn child a separate criminal offense in 2011. Anyone convicted of the crime who “willfully and maliciously commits an act with the intent to cause the death of the unborn child” or who “causes the death of the unborn child in perpetration or attempted perpetration” of first- or second-degree murder faces a statutory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to North Carolina law. 

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Detective Sgt. E. Pierce at 919-580-4023.