Man charged with murder in 4-year-old's death

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:

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RICHMOND COUNTY, N.C. - A man has been charged with murder in the death of a 4-year-old in Richmond County, the sheriff said.

Deputies said a woman first called 911 just before 8 a.m. Friday, and then an unidentified male took over the call and told dispatchers a 4-year-old girl was not breathing. When police arrived, they found the girl dead.

Officials haven’t said how she died.

Julius Juan Lilly, 39, was charged with murder. He is being held in the Richmond County Jail under no bond, officials said.

Authorities said Lilly is the live-in boyfriend of the girl's mother, and had been watching her while her mother was at work.

Friends of the family were shocked, telling Eyewitness News Lilly had never been violent before and seemed like a good caretaker.

"How could this take place from a man to be the way he was. And I want to be able to do more. I want to be able to pick her up and bring her back home to her mama," said friend Melissa Rodriguez.

Deputies are not identifying the victim or her mother.

They said her body was sent to the state medical examiner in Chapel Hill for an official cause. The sheriff did not comment if any visible signs of injury were on the girl's body.