Man arrested after pregnant woman found stabbed to death inside home

Published: Mar. 20, 2017 at 9:49 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2017 at 11:09 AM EDT
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Source: NBC12
Source: NBC12

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Police say they have a man in custody after a woman was found stabbed to death in her home.

Police say Rita B. Hawthorne, 27, was found by her mother, dead in an upstairs bedroom at a home on 16th Street in Manchester around 3 p.m. on Sunday. The Medical Examiner says her cause of death is due to a sharp force injury to the neck, and her manner of death is a homicide.

"I'm just devastated, I still can't get over it," said Stan Hampton, a family friend. "[She was] Such a joy to be around, fun, jokes."

Police later arrested George H. Cooke, 23. He is charged with robbery and felony breaking and entering. Police say additional charges are pending.

"He's such a coward, he didn't have to do this," said Rhonda Thorne, Hawthorne's aunt.

Detectives say Cooke and Hawthorne used to be in a relationship, but they were not together when she was killed. Family and friends say they did not know Cooke.

According to family members of Hawthorne, she was about seven weeks pregnant. For years, she lived in the home on East 16th Street with her mother, grandmother and uncle. Thorne says they shared an unbreakable bond, all sharing the name Rita in some form.

Now as they look to plan a funeral for her, family and friends are remembering Hawthorne, a woman they say was talented, bubbly, and loved life.

"Pray for us, and pray for strength," said Hampton.

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