Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Seeing is Believing

Posted February 5, 2007

We've all heard it before -- a picture is worth a thousand words, but I can tell you that 27 pictures of Michelle Young's autopsy have left me speechless.

The 29-year-old pregnant mother was found beaten to death in her Wake County home on Nov. 3.  The autopsy report chronicles the details of her death in matter-of-fact medical terms.  She was beaten about the head and shoulders as many as 30 times.  Her skull was fractured, her jaw broken, her teeth dislodged.  There were defensive wounds on her hands.  Her 20-week old fetus also died.  But the photographs go deeper than the sterile words of a forensic pathologist.  They are disturbing beyond belief.

I didn't know the victim when she was alive.  Although I have a hunch that our paths may have crossed once or twice before.  But I have gotten to know her through her photographs.  In one, she is a beaming bride with a hundred-watt smile.  In another she is a doting mom with her daughter perched on her hip.  In others she is an all-American girl, a cheerleader enthusiastically belting out her school's name.  She is a sorority sister with her arms draped over the shoulders of her closest friends.  Before today, this is how I knew Michelle Young.

The pictures I saw today bear no resemblance to the beautiful young mother.  In fact, had I not known they were her, I would not have recognized her.  She is bruised, swollen, maimed.  The staff at the North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office could not have been more professional and gracious as they presented us with the pictures.  One of the men commented that they are used to these types of photographs, but could not understand why anyone else would ever want to see them unless it is related to their job.

Before today, I might have challenged that assertion, but now I wholeheartedly agree.  Before today, I had a picture of Michelle Young in my head that was bright, cheerful and full of life.  Today, I have a very different picture, and it's one I hope you never have to see.

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  • lkattner71 Feb 7, 2007

    What is the hold up..it's been 3 months, it's hard to believe they don't have enough evidence to make an arrest yet, especially since they found hair and skin under her fingernails - get the person who did this already! I would hate to see this case lose media attention - keep the heat on the suspect and the police maybe they'll get moving.

  • andreawesco Feb 6, 2007

    I read the report of her autopsy the day it was released and thought to myself how could anyone do that to another human being and her unborn child. I hope and pray they find the person responsible for this. No one not even an animal should have to die like that. My heart goes out to her family and especially her daughter. God Bless!!

  • BIG YAWN Feb 5, 2007

    Justice will be served! A beating this severe is one of vengfulness. She new her attacker. It's just a matter of time! Ivestigation continues....

  • donaldlsmith Feb 5, 2007

    dcooper said, "I pray that who ever did this is brought to justice." To be honest, there *IS* no justice for whomever did this, because nothing the legal system can give out is bad enough!

  • Roach Feb 5, 2007

    I pray that who ever did this is brought to justice. It is frightening that there is someone walking around free who can and will do such a thing. They will have to answer either in this life or the lifeafter. I hope it is in both.

  • packandcanesfan Feb 5, 2007

    How tragic that such a beautiful young woman is taken away in such a violent manner. I am sure her loved ones cannot even comprehend that all this could be done to her. It is so sad that her daughter will have to grow up without her.

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WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.