Local News

Knife Could Be Weapon in Pregnant Mom's Slaying

Posted June 19, 2007
Updated June 20, 2007

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— A man walking less than a half-mile away from where a pregnant newspaper carrier was found slain last week panicked when he found a bloody knife and threw it over a fence, WRAL has learned.

Sources said the man found the knife while walking along Lake Wheeler Road sometime Thursday, the same day police found the body of 22-year-old Jennifer Kathleen "Jenna" Nielsen behind the AmeriKing Food Mart.

The man, who is a resident of The Healing Place of Wake County, a program for homeless substance abusers, later went to police with the information, sources said.

Raleigh police, however, will not confirm whether investigators have recovered a knife or any weapon in the case. They have also refused to disclose to the media how Nielsen died.

Photos from WRAL's Sky 5, which flew over the convenience store Thursday morning, however, show a bloody crime scene.

Citing privacy concerns, Dennis Parnell, the director of The Healing Place, would not talk about the incident but said officials there are fully cooperating with authorities.

"We're all about responsibility here," Parnell, said. "If there's somebody who's committed a crime, particularly a heinous crime, we want to do everything we can to help get that person off the street."

A woman who works as an office manager nearby where the knife was found said she helped investigators retrieve the weapon from a fenced-in property.

"We cooperated with the detectives," she said, based on the condition of anonymity. "Whatever they needed, we responded to them and gave them what they wanted."

A mother of two, Nielsen, of Fuquay-Varina, was eight months pregnant with her third child. She was on her early morning route to restock USA Today newspaper boxes when she was killed, police said.

Police have described the slaying as a random act and have said they want to identify a man seen near the convenience store in the pre-dawn hours Thursday.

He is described as being in the late teens or early 20s, standing about 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing about 120 pounds. He had black hair pulled into a ponytail and wore a dark-colored sleeveless shirt and baggy denim shorts.

Anyone with information about the case should contact the Raleigh Police Department's tip line at 919-227-6220.

Police said Monday that they have received many leads via the tip line.

Parnell said there is no indication that any residents from The Healing Place is connected to Nielsen's death.

A composite released Friday evening, he said, does not fit the description of anyone there. And residents must follow strict rules, including a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.

Given the nature of his organization and its proximity to the crime scene, Parnell said it is a natural question and that he and his staff will continue to cooperate with authorities in any way necessary.

"We emphasize responsibility here, and people's responsibility to society," he said. "Therefore, we cooperate within federal laws and guidelines of laws as best we can with the police department."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • lastchance Jun 21, 2007

    very much a tragedy but I agree with the one that wrote that we should demand a governor or government to be harsher on killing, not just let them sit in prison and eat 3 square meals aday. Maybe i feel this way cause my son was also murdered last year and persons of interest hasnt still beeen caught. while i feel for this family, Im asking also for ours... please visit www.leroyjernigan.com and see the intended suspects. There are two others of interest but cannot post them on that site, you would have to email me at. tristendeane1@yahoo.com.... thanks and my heart goes out to that family, I know first hand what they are going through.

  • 2AMANDA2 Jun 21, 2007


    i wasn't specifically questioning it. you should have read both of my posts. i was responding to a question about me having an eerie feeling about the homicide. pay attention.

  • friendlylady Jun 21, 2007

    This is a very sad situation. The composite can be either male or female...My question is "If she wasn't rob, sexual assault, why would someone want to harm a pregnant woman?" Could she have known her attacker? This is a senseless crime and it should never go unsolved.

  • lboy Jun 20, 2007


  • jennas mother Jun 20, 2007

    USA TODAY- It is very sad to say that the only repsonse we have received from them is "Don't worry about the money Jenna owes us, from her pick ups earlier in the week!" How sad is that. I understand they are not legally responsible for anything as she was an independent contractor, but she was delivery for them and they did assign her the route. I feel ethically the should step up to the plate and at least offer a reward if not anything else.

    BOON EDAM- a local company in the area, where Tim (her husband) Kevin (her father) and Chris (her brother) all work. That company has been the best through out his whole ordeal. They have bent over backwards to help and have gone the extra mile.

    I am amazed at the amount of people that showed up to show thier respects. Thank you all for your prayers I know it will make her path easier knowing she has touched all of your lives. She will be misseed dearly.

  • jennas mother Jun 20, 2007

    I want to thank everyone who has written thier views on this horrible situation.

    WRAL- I actually want to thank you for giving as much information as you do, as the police will not tell us anything. I hope you keep this case on the fore front of the news on every broadcast until the person is caught. I agree the composite could be male or female and race is unknown. But again he is a person of interest and might know somethng, he is not an actual suspect at this time. I don't want everyone assuming he is the suspect because they might not come forward with information if they think it is not related to this person of interest. All information is still requested to assist the police in doing thier job.

  • lboy Jun 20, 2007

    Was just informed that Greta Van Susteren will speak about Jenna's story tonight (6/20/2007) on Fox News at 10pm. Currently slated for 10:45pm ET. The name of the show is "On The Record".

  • latanya512 Jun 20, 2007

    The composite does look like a female. I hope this person gets caught and Central Prison Population will definitely be waiting for him or Women's prison her. You do not kill pregnant moms and their unborn children.

  • mythoughts22 Jun 20, 2007

    Qui: what is much worse than death if they catch the killer? if the police catch him and the court gives him life in prison how is that much worse?? he/she would have 3 meals a day, cable tv, and he might get off in 15-20 yrs if he/she has "good behavior" i want to see the person fry for this. we do not need people in this world to live and possible hurt other innocent people and i dont want my tax dollars paying for a place to house this sick individual.

  • raptor101 Jun 20, 2007

    that composite sketch is not a man.. that is a woman, look at jaw line and clavical section.. can't wait till they bust this case to learn the details