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Death row inmate convicted of rape, murder of NC 5-year-old dies of natural causes

The crime happened in 2002. A jury found Eric Lane guilty of raping and murdering 5-year-old Precious Whitfield in 2005.
Credit: NCDPS
Eric Lane

WAYNE COUNTY, N.C. — A man convicted of murdering a young girl in Wayne County 20 years ago has died on death row.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced Eric Lane died of natural causes Thursday morning in Central Prison Medical Center. He was 51.

The crime happened in 2002.

Five-year-old Precious Whitfield was playing at her grandmother’s home when she disappeared.

Investigators found her body in a creek seven miles away.

The initial court proceedings against Lane ended in a mistrial. Then in 2005, a jury convicted Lane of first-degree murder, kidnapping, rape, and sex offense.

His sentence was death, but it’s unclear when he was set to be executed.

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