Local News

As City Grows, Number of Random Homicides Does, Too

Posted June 20, 2007
Updated June 22, 2007

— Although life goes on at the State Farmer's Market across the street from where the body of Jenna Nielsen was found last week, it is never far from the minds of people who work there.

"You don't believe that something like this could happen right outside, right there," said Nicolle Chacosky, who sells produce at the Farmer's Market, a place Nielsen visited often.

Raleigh police found the 22-year-old pregnant mother of two early Thursday morning behind the AmeriKing Food Mart on Lake Wheeler Road after a delivery driver reported a suspicious car in front of the store.

Detectives have offered little information about their investigation or how she died. They have said they believe the crime was random and are seeking the public's help in identifying a man in a composite photograph.

Cases like Nielsen's are becoming all too common, according to statistics from the State Bureau of Investigation. In the past year, nearly 15 percent of all homicide victims in the state were killed by strangers.

Although the overall number of homicides in Raleigh has dropped, the SBI numbers reflect a steady increase over the past three years of "stranger" homicides in which the victim did not know his or her killer.

Last August, Cynthia Moreland, a 48-year-old Progress Energy worker, was abducted from a parking garage beneath the utility company's headquarters in Downtown Raleigh. Ten days later, two people found her body behind an abandoned barn in Harnett County.

A week later, police charged Antonio Chance, 29, with kidnapping and murder. Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty.

And last June, LeRoy Jernigan, 41, was found dead inside the Circus Restaurant on Wake Forest Road. He was working as a cleaning contractor when he was shot to death, police said. Authorities have yet to make any arrests in that case.

"It's a fearful situation for the public, and it's a fearful situation for law enforcement," retired Raleigh police homicide Investigator Chris Morgan said.

Morgan, who headed the Major Crimes Task Force of the Raleigh Police Department until he retired in 2005, said that as the city's population increases, the number of stranger homicides increases. They are harder to investigate because the pool of suspects is so large.

"When you're looking for the offender, it's a daunting task for law enforcement also," Morgan said.


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  • gopanthers Jun 21, 2007

    @NCCARGUY - this is one of my many concerns I brought up on another article today and you said I was spoiled. Now your basicly saying the same thing here as I brought up about crime being out of control and your statement is to take this serious and act quickly. So which is it - Am I spoiled or not? Can't be both ways.

  • it is getting worse Jun 21, 2007

    we need tougher judges who don't let people off the hook...plain and simple.

  • floyd_lawson Jun 21, 2007

    Until the prison system wakes up and get's tough on violent offenders this will keep rising. Not necessarily any of the crimes in this article but a lot of the random acts are gang initiations. Prisons should take away their ac, tv, recreation, smokes and half of their food. Maybe then they won't think of prison as "a little down time".

  • lnscustomwheels Jun 21, 2007

    Cynthia Moreland is my sister and we as a family had throughts in the back of our minds concerning her being raped. we were never told that is what happen to her until the news on yesterday.

  • owlady Jun 21, 2007

    Random violent crimes may be up or down. That still makes us just as vulnerable. People need to be aware of their surroundings at all times and lock doors, use the buddy system, etc.etc. Try to stay as safe as humanly possible. (delivering newspapers in the pre-dawn hours is a risky job for anyone, but most especially for a woman) Women need to be more careful when choosing ways to make money. I am so sorry for their loss.

  • I Hate Hippies Jun 21, 2007

    I fully support the conceal carry law and a hip holstered glock to take care of any problems. All the police do is get there in time to take a report, they hate being interrupted at Krispy Kreme.

  • TheLogicalOne Jun 21, 2007

    I lived in Philadelphia most of my life and the violent crime rate there is much worse than the Triangle.

    People here are knocking law enforcement in this area, but after living here for two years, I have seen more violent criminals here caught in a timely fashion than I did in Philly. Also, I see in the news more judges issuing high Bonds, rather than bail (which is easier to pay).

    I was a victim of violent crime in Philly, in broad daylight and had to fight like Rocky Balboa to protect myself. The guys were caught by Philly Police within a hour, and the idiot judge issues $3000 bail on a violent crime for both attackers. Needless to say they made bail and skipped town.

    I fully support Raleigh Police, Garner Police, The Wake County Sheriffs Dept, etc.

  • ahh-fooie.... Jun 21, 2007

    Original 1
    You might want to take the 5th!
    Besides I think you’re more of a #2

  • TruthIsSubjective Jun 21, 2007


  • 1 of the original Americans Jun 21, 2007

    DO YA'LL (I am trying to utilize local jargon) EVER GET TIRED OF BLAMING THE HISPANICS FOR EVERYTHING??