• A family member said the deceased child's parents are cousins
  • It is believed the baby died around Thanksgiving last year
  • Investigators are still working to find the motive behind the death

The body of a "badly decomposed infant" was found in the backyard of a North Carolina home, authorities said. The parents of the baby have been arrested and charged with murder.

Dustin VanDyke, 28, and Gracie Riddle, 18, were charged with first-degree murder. They made their first court appearances Monday.

The parents are accused of being involved in their infant's death, which took place several months back. The baby died around Thanksgiving last year, police were cited as saying by WRAL.

A family member told the outlet that the deceased infant's parents are cousins. The "deceased and badly decomposed" body was found buried in the backyard of the home on Moulton Spring Road in Erwin on Friday, officials said, according to the News & Observer.

The discovery was made after the police received information about the child's unreported death, WYFF News 4 reported. Cops searched the house and found the decomposed body with the help of a cadaver dog.

"I'm sure there's other people with knowledge of the incident through word of mouth or whatever," Police Chief Jonathan Johnson said.

Speaking about the tip-off, Johnson said, "I think this person just finally got to a point where their conscious got to them and they decided they needed to talk about it and tell someone and that's how we initially got the report."

"Where the child was buried, there was a lawn mower that sat there for a long time. And it was a nice lawn mower, but it never moved," one neighbor told ABC11. "We just figured that something was wrong with it. And it was just sitting there. Now the lawn mower moved in the last month, so now this child is uncovered."

Investigators said the child's death does not appear to be an accident. They waiting for autopsy results for details about the cause of death.

The baby's age and gender were also unclear. Johnson confirmed that the baby was a newborn at the time of death.

"It's going to take time for everyone to heal from the community, the police department, the officers that had to investigate this," Johnson said in his statement. "It's going to take some time for everyone to heal. But we're a strong community. We're a strong, family-oriented police department and we'll stick together and we'll all get through it."

"Anytime there is someone severely injured or killed you know it impacts everyone from the police department into the community, and when it's a child or an infant it just makes it that much worse," Johnson added.

VanDyke and Riddle were ordered to be held without bond. They are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 6.

Representational image: newborn baby
Representational image (Source: Pixabay / spicetree687)