HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A mother and father accused in the death of their infant appeared before a judge Monday.
Police in Erwin arrested Dustin Vandyke and Gracie Riddle after finding an infant's body behind their home. Both are facing first-degree murder charges stemming from the Nov. 22, 2021 death of their child.
Officers started the investigation after receiving a tip about an unreported death that occurred several months earlier at a house on Moulton Springs Road. Police said they executed a search warrant at the house around 9 p.m. Friday.
During the search, officers said a cadaver dog led them to a decomposed body of an infant behind the house.
"Where the child was buried, there was a lawn mower that sat there for a long time. And it was a nice lawn mower, but it never moved. We just figured that something was wrong with it. And it was just sitting there. Now the lawn mower moved in the last month, so now this child is uncovered," One neighbor told ABC11.
Vandyke and Riddle will be appointed a public defender. Their next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 6. Both will remain in jail without bond
Erwin Police Chief Jonathan Johnson urged the community to band together to get through this difficult time.
"It's going to take time for everyone to heal from the community, the police department, the officers that had to investigate this. It's going to take some time for everyone to heal. But we're a strong community. We're a strong, family-oriented police department and we'll stick together and we'll all get through it," he said.
Johnson said police are still investigating the motive and whether the couple had other children.
An autopsy is still being performed on the infant. Johnson said police have yet to recover hospital records that reveal anything regarding the infant's health.
"Anytime there is someone severely injured or killed you know it impacts everyone from the police department into the community, and when it's a child or an infant it just makes it that much worse," Johnson said.