'Always going to be a hole:' Father stays hopeful 10 years after daughter's murder
Posted May 31
Raleigh, N.C. — It has been 10 years since a pregnant Fuquay-Varina woman was found dead behind a Raleigh convenience store in what police have called a random homicide.
Jenna Nielsen had been delivering newspapers on the morning of June 14, 2007, at the AmeriKing Food Mart on Lake Wheeler Road when someone stabbed her in the neck and left her body behind the store.
The 22-year-old was weeks away from giving birth to her third son, to be named Ethen.
Although investigators found DNA at the crime scene, Nielsen's death has never been solved.
Kevin Blaine, Nielsen's father, said he has never gotten over his daughter's death.
"Every single day you go to bed with it," he said. "You keep up with it. It's never going to go away. There is always going to be a hole."
But as the years passed, Blaine has never lost hope.
"It just keeps going on and nothing," he said.
Early in the investigation, detectives put out a description of a person wanted for questioning who was seen near the convenience store on the night of the crime.
Police have described him as a short, slightly built man in his late teens or early 20s with black hair pulled back into a long ponytail. He was wearing a dark-colored sleeveless shirt and baggy denim shorts. His ethnicity is not known.
Nielsen's family is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
"I hate to put a price on my daughter's death, but it is all we can afford right now," Blaine said.
Besides solving the case, Blaine's focus is now on Nielsen's sons, who are 11 and 13. They live with their father in Utah.
"You go to look at the future and make sure the grandkids grow up knowing what they can about their mother and live their life," Blaine said.
In the years since her slaying, family members have set up a website, Justice4Jenna, in an effort to keep the case in the public eye.
Blaine said the only silver lining to the tragedy is successfully prompting lawmakers to enact "Ethen's Law," which would find anyone who commits murder, manslaughter or assault against a pregnant woman guilty of the same crimes against the fetus.
The same detective who was originally assigned to the case is still investigating it. It was his first murder case, and while he's investigated many since that time, he said he is committed to trying to solve it.