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Evidence Not Collected in Young Murder Case

Posted May 3, 2007

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— Evidence that could be used to convict whomever killed Michelle Young was never collected, even though a document that accompanied her body to the medical examiner's office shows investigators asked for it.

According to the pathology sheet, obtained Thursday by WRAL, agents with Wake County's City-County Bureau of Investigation, requested tests to determine whether Young had either been sexually assaulted or had sex prior to her death.

Young, 29, was found dead inside her south Raleigh home on Nov. 3. An autopsy later revealed she died from blunt force trauma to the head. Authorities still have not made an arrest in the case.

Sexual assault kits are normally only performed when there is obvious evidence at the crime scene or on the victim's body. Otherwise, investigators must request those tests.

Young was fully clothed when her body arrived at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The CCBI, which collects forensic evidence in all homicide cases, asked for several types of evidence from the autopsy: blood, hair (both head and pubic), clothing and the sexual assault kit.

CCBI Director Sam Pennica said his agency also made the request to a member of the medical examiner's staff, but for some reason, the sexual assault tests were never performed. If it is collected during an autopsy, it is indicated on the autopsy report, but there was no mention of a sexual assault examination on Young's report.

"The medical examiner is in charge of the body, not us," Pennica said. "We can only request what we would like to have -- what we feel is important to the investigation."

In criminal cases, investigators try to get as much evidence as possible to identify and eliminate suspects.

Legal experts say that when the case goes to trial, a lack of evidence, such as the sexual assault kit, could cast reasonable doubt for a jury and make it difficult for a conviction.

"Certainly, it leaves an area of unanswered questions," Pennica said.

Investigators, however, do have other methods of obtaining the evidence.

It's unclear why the evidence was not collected and Chapel Hill's chief medical examiner, Dr. John Butts, doesn't know, because he said he has not had a chance to talk to pathologist Dr. Thomas Clark, who performed the autopsy, about that piece of evidence.

"I wasn't there," he said. "If a decision was made not to collect that kit, I don't know why that decision was made."

Butts did say, however, that requests on the pathology sheet often change once a body is ready for autopsy. But those requests aren't always documented on the sheet and that the sheet isn't always used during the autopsy.

"The fact that someone checked something doesn't mean that request was conveyed to us," he said.

48 Comments

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  • ok4now May 5, 2007

    It is quite possible that some preliminary "strip" testing on Michelle and testing of her clothes came up negative. If and when an arrest is made, I don't believe guilt or innocence will be decided on whether the full SA test was performed. LE will get their man.

  • sickofstupidpeople May 5, 2007

    Ummmm.... CCBI missed the tooth, not the police, and not the sheriff.

  • Jackstwin May 4, 2007

    Wasn't there a tooth found that police had missed? Were tests done on it or was it even kept?

  • Byrdman May 4, 2007

    Theelz, someone didn't drop the ball, they punted it into the stands

    No rev., the crime scene were at fault for not finding the tooth, and the hammer. Blame whoever you want, blame yourselves for being ignorant

    Gupp, if he is innocent why didn't he attend either memorial service for his wife in NY?

    This is an absolute injustice and the only ones to blame are yourselves, as north Carolinians, for being so ignorant to allow these incompetent people to hold office/jobs.

  • Juliett May 4, 2007

    Gupp, I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Gupp May 4, 2007

    I honestly do not believe Jason could do something like this. I have known him about 13 years..went to college with him..lived in the same dorm..worked with him. I do feel for him. losing a spouse is one of the hardest things you can go through. I know this because mine passed last year also. I feel also for her family. I just hope no blame is placed until the truth is found out.

  • gi jane May 4, 2007

    @sammy12

    If they find DNA on her then it is significant b/c he was supposed to be out of town when it happened so if they found it then it could mean he was at the crime scene? I dont know the life of DNA or if he could say that if they found something incriminating he could say it was from before his trip? I dont know. Just a guess.

  • davidgnews May 4, 2007

    More bumbling.

    Most anytime you find a murder like this, it's 'personal.'

    Go figure.

  • Doctor Dataclerk May 4, 2007

    Surely the body could be exumed and the evidence collected now and as someone else said, without an arrest or even a suspect, it doesn't really matter at this point.

  • wrx44 May 4, 2007

    Dayum...the husband is the suspect...who do you think. Just cause the police do not announce it publicly. He did it...they all know he did it...they are correctly focusing on him. They know he'll get a good lawyer, so they are taking their time to ensure they have their ducks in a row to win the case.

    Just like the Miller-Kontz case....everyone knew she was involved...it just took years to get enough evidence to win in court.

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