A North Carolina man turned himself in to authorities over the weekend after he confessed that he killed his 15-year-old daughter.
According to PEOPLE, Sunday, Joshua Lee Burgess, walked into the Union County Sheriff’s Office and informed a dispatcher that “he was there to turn himself in” because “he had just killed someone.”
Deputies later confirmed that the person in question was his biracial daughter, Zaria Burgess.
After first responders found the body of the teen inside the home, her father was formally arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Burgess has yet to enter a plea, but he is scheduled to return to court next month.
Local station WSOC reports that Monday during a preliminary hearing, the court learned the 32-year-old had strangled his daughter prior to slitting her throat. Although a motive has yet to be determined many suspect it was a racially motivated attack.
“I think this was as much of a shock to [Zaria’s mother] as it has been to anyone who knows the victim, that it was just out of the blue,” a spokesperson for the Union County Sheriff’s Office told the Daily News. “And nobody saw this coming.”
The teen who lived primarily with her mother routinely visited her father on weekends. It was during one of those visits when the murder took place and her family is understandably devastated, but also confused.
“She was the type of kid to come in a room come or in a house and say, ‘Hey everybody’ — just wanting to make everybody smile,” the victim’s cousin, Dytaysha Wadsworth, told WSCO. “She was so young and nobody deserves to leave this world like that, especially by someone they thought was gonna protect them and be there for them.”
Shortly after his arrest, the Union County Sheriff’s Office also charged Burgess with statutory rape, first-degree statutory sex offense, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
“The details of this murder are indescribable. Every officer and detective involved in this case is feeling the effects of what happened to this child,” Sheriff Eddie Cathey said in a statement. “There is no logical answer to explain why this man did what he is accused of doing.”