Freeman sentenced to death in child murders

A Hoke County jury Tuesday sentenced Tillman Freeman III to death after finding him guilty of fatally stabbing his two young daughters in the backseat of a car.

A Hoke County jury deliberated for about 40 minutes before returning the verdict, Hoke and Moore County District Attorney Mike Hardin said Tuesday evening.

Freeman, of Fayetteville, was found guilty on two counts of capital murder in the deaths of four-day-old Genesis Freeman and two-year old Serenity Freeman. He received a sentence of death on each of the counts. He will be sent to North Carolina Central Prison to await his sentence.

Freeman was 30 years old in 2017 when law enforcement said he kidnapped the girls while their mother was at a doctor’s appointment. Reports from local law enforcement at the time stated Freeman had gotten into a domestic dispute with the girls’ mother and accused her of having an affair.

Raeford police apprehended Freeman after receiving a call about a suspicious person, and turned him over to Fayetteville authorities. Freeman later led investigators to the family’s Toyota Camry in the woods off of N.C. 211 in Hoke County, where officers found the children’s bodies in the back seat of the vehicle.

Genesis Freeman died of sharp and blunt force injuries including multiple stab wounds to the head, while Serenity Freeman died of a single stab wound directly to the throat, according to the autopsy reports. The newborn girl also suffered a broken arm and multiple broken ribs, while her toddler sister suffered additional cuts to her face and chin. The medical examiner declared both girls’ manner of death as homicide.

The jury’s decision came after a trial process that took about 10 weeks. Presentation of evidence began earlier this month.

District Attorney Hardin released the following statement Wednesday:

On April 19, 2022, Tillman Freeman III was sentenced to two death sentences for killing his two children. The sentences were handed down by a Hoke County jury following a protracted sentencing hearing. On March 24, 2017, Freeman killed his four (4) day old daughter Genesis, and his two (2) year old daughter Serenity by stabbing them to death.  Freeman drove the children from Fayetteville to a wooded area off Army Road in Hoke County and killed them. He then left the children in the car and walked away. Freeman first told law enforcement officers he left the children with a drug dealer in Cumberland County. He later told officers he killed the children to punish his wife, whom he believed was cheating on him. The State was represented by District Attorney Mike Hardin, Chief Deputy Assistant District Attorney Kristy Newton, and Assistant District Attorney Mary Lawrence Ellis.  Jury selection began on January 18, 2022, and the sentence was handed down after 6:00 pm yesterday evening.

I would like to thank the many officers from the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office, Raeford City Police Department, The State Bureau of Investigation, and the Fayetteville Police Department that worked diligently to bring Mr. Freeman to justice. Additionally, we would like to give special thanks to the men and women of the Hoke County jury, that gave their time to this very important case, and helped bring closure to the mother of these children. This was an especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel killing of two innocent babies. The case was emotionally taxing for everyone involved. I hope now the family can find some peace.  

Sincerely,

Michael K. Hardin

District Attorney

29th Prosecutorial District

Moore and Hoke Counties

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