Local News

Nash County Parents Cannot Find Closure After Death Of College Daughter

Posted May 14, 2002

— Two-and-a-half years after the death of their daughter Jamie, Ann and Robert Holland of Nash County cannot find a way to heal. They are haunted by the belief that someone murdered the 22-year-old fun-loving East Carolina senior.

After an ECU football game and a long night of drinking and doing drugs, Jamie and her friends returned to an apartment off campus. At 8:45 the following morning, Jamie was found dead, face down on the floor.

Following an autopsy, Medical Examiner Dr. Mary Gilliland ruled Jamie's death an accident. She listed asphyxiation as the cause, citing a combination of alcohol and the drug Ecstasy in her system.

"When we first saw Jamie's body, we knew then it was not drugs and alcohol that killed Jamie," Ann said.

"It just didn't add up. The truth is Jamie was murdered," Robert said.

Driven by the image of bruises on Jamie's neck and face, the Hollands began a crusade to prove she was strangled.

"We started contacting Congressmen, senators," Robert said.

Last summer, the family paid to have the body exhumed. Holland videotaped a second autopsy of his daughter.

"Sometimes, I don't even know how I did it," Robert said.

Two independent forensic pathologists found evidence to support the Hollands' suspicions. One of them, former state chief medical examiner Dr. Page Hudson, is troubled by bruising on the neck.

"To my thinking, highly suggestive of manual strangulation," Hudson said.

While not convinced Jamie was murdered, Hudson feels the bruising warrants a reopening of the case.

"As far as the police department is concerned, it's a closed investigation," Greenville Police Detective Steve Pass said.

Pass said he sympathizes with the Hollands, but his investigators stand by Dr. Gilliland's initial ruling.

"If I'm told or if the police department is notified that we have a homicide investigation, then we'll conduct a homicide investigation. If it's still an accidental death, then we get what we get." he said.

After learning of the differing medical opinions, Deputy Attorney General Jim Coman wrote a letter. He recommends Dr. Gilliland meet with the two pathologists to discuss the case. That meeting has not happened. Gilliland has also declined to talk with WRAL.

"When you fight a system that's trying to shove you in a crack and putty over you and that's what they're trying to do and we're not going to give up," Robert said.

The Hollands said an anonymous letter also fuels suspicions. Sent from Jacksonville, Fla., the writer claims to be the parent of an ECU student.

"He said that he had gone to a bar and he heard a guy bragging that he had killed a girl. The girl's name was Jamie Holland," Robert said.

"We followed up on that information and it led us nowhere," Pass said.

After years of paperwork and pain, the Hollands feel they have gotten nowhere.

"It's a drive that I don't think any parent would step to the side and let it go by," Robert said.

"We get the truth out and maybe some healing can start, because as it is, there's no healing," Ann said.

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