5-Year-Old Paitin Fields Was Raped and Strangled in 2017 — 4 Years Later, Her Uncle Is Named the Prime Suspect

Paitin is remembered as a happy-go-lucky little girl who always had a smile on her face

Paitin Fields
Paitin Fields. Photo: Facebook

On Nov. 13, 2017, North Carolina resident David Prevatte drove his niece, 5-year-old Paitin Fields, to the hospital with her step-grandfather as she lay unresponsive in the vehicle.

"I have a 5-year-old that was brought in," an official said on the 911 call, WWAY News reported. "Strongly appears to be strangulation marks on her neck."

Three days later, Paitin died in the hospital.

An autopsy showed signs of strangulation and sexual trauma, authorities said.

Now, more than four years later, Prevatte, 23, who had been named by the Pender County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina as a suspect in the little girl's murder in June of 2018, was arrested on Friday in Bayou Blue, La., Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler announced in a statement.

David Wesley Prevatte
David Prevatte. Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office

After a lengthy investigation, Cutler said the Pender County Sheriff's Office obtained an arrest warrant for Prevatte for first-degree murder, first-degree statutory rape, and statutory sex offense with child by adult.

Prevatte was taken into custody in Lafourche Parish on Friday after North Carolina investigators tracked his location to Bayou Blue, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said in a statement.

He was booked into the Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex, where he will remain while he awaits extradition to North Carolina.

"This has been an ongoing investigation and I am extremely pleased and proud of the effort that has been put into this investigation by my personnel," Cutler said.

"We were more than happy to assist in what will hopefully bring closure to a case and bring the perpetrator of a heinous crime to justice," Webre said.

This isn't the first time Prevatte has been behind bars.

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In March 2019, Prevatte pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of intimidating a witness, breaking and entering, larceny, and burning a building, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office said in the statement.

While Prevatte was jailed on those charges — for approximately 10 months — he was also charged with intimidating a witness and communicating threats, WWAY reports, as authorities alleged in an arrest warrant obtained by the outlet that he called his mother, Lisa Hunt, and threatened the lead investigator in Paitin's slaying.

Prevatte is now in custody again while he awaits his next court date. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

'She Could Have Been Miss USA'

Meanwhile, Paitin's family continues to grieve the loss of the little girl they loved so much.

"This was the last picture I have of Paitin that I have on my pictures," Paitin's aunt, Marie Spaulding, said in a Facebook post Friday.

"To everyone that knows our story and what happened to Paitin, we got answers today and someone was charged in her death."

But the case, she said, "has taken a toll on me and my family."

At times, Spaulding admitted, she "thought about telling the detective to just make this a cold case."

Detectives told her not to give up, because "if I did that I would be letting Paitin down," she wrote.

"If this could bring her back I would be so happy but I know she is in Jesus' arms saying good job Aunt Ree Ree for not giving up," Spaulding wrote.

"I believe that's why it rain off and on today to wash some my pain way," she wrote. "Yes I break down and cried today because I was relieved. Thank You Pender Co Sheriff department. #justiceforpaitinfields #forever5."

In 2019, Spaulding told WWAY News that Paitin was a happy little girl who had a promising future ahead of her.

Paitin Fields
Paitin Fields. Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office

"Every time I seen her she was smiling and would come running up to me and say 'Hey, Aunt Ree Ree!'" she recalled.

"She could have been the next president," Spaulding said. "She could have been Miss USA."

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