SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (WTVD) -- Police are now investigating the death of an 18-year-old pregnant woman in Southern Pines as a homicide.
Aiyonna Clarice Barrett, of Sanford, was found dead in a car on a dirt road near South Gaines Street around 7:45 p.m. Sunday night.
She was pregnant with a full-term unborn child, who also died.
In accordance with North Carolina General Statute, this case will now be investigated as a double homicide, "pursuing justice not only for Aiyonna Clarice Barrett but for her full-term child as well," police said.
The family released the following statement Monday:
"This is devastating news for our family. Aiyonna was a prized member of our family and we were also eagerly awaiting the arrival of her baby girl. We are in shock and are looking forward for more information to be revealed by the law enforcement investigation on how and why this happened. Nothing will justify Aiyonna and her unborn baby girl being taken away from us but we expect justice to be served on the person who took them from us. We fully support law enforcement in their efforts to find out who did this and hope that person is found immediately and arrested. We are aware of numerous people speaking out on social media about their theories but none of those statements should be regarded as being made on behalf of our family. We appreciate everyone's prayers and support during this difficult time. Otherwise, we will not comment further as this is an ongoing investigation."
Chief Bob Temme offered the following condolences to the family and friends of Aiyonna Barrett:
"On behalf of the Southern Pines Police Department, please accept our deepest sympathy on the unexpected loss of Aiyonna and her child. The Southern Pines Police Department shares the pain and sorrow felt by all. Please draw comfort in knowing that the entire Southern Pines Police Department has pledged an unwavering commitment to the relentless pursuit of justice for all concerned. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you in faith and sympathy."
Police are seeking additional information from the community and would like anyone with information to call the Southern Pines Police Department at (910) 692-7031 or the Crime Tip Line at (910) 693-4110. All information provided will remain confidential and can be provided anonymously.