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Police: Pregnant Paper Carrier Was Stabbed

Posted June 27, 2007

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— A pregnant newspaper carrier found dead behind a convenience store earlier this month was stabbed, and a knife was recovered near the crime scene, Raleigh police confirmed Wednesday.

Spokesman Jim Sughrue, however, did not say whether the knife was the murder weapon.

"A large number of items have been collected, and the department is in a position to confirm that one of the collected items in this case was a knife that was located in an area near the crime scene," he said. "The knife and other items of potential evidence are being examined in an appropriate manner."

On June 14, an officer responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle at the AmeriKing Food Mart on Lake Wheeler Road found the body of Jennifer Kathleen "Jenna" Nielsen, 22.

Sughrue said the knife is the same one WRAL reported on last week in which sources said a man walking near the crime scene discovered a bloody knife, became panicked and threw it over a nearby fence. A woman who works nearby said she helped investigators retrieve the weapon.

Nielsen, who was eight months pregnant, her husband and two children had moved to Fuquay-Varina from Utah last August. She stayed at home with the children during the day while her husband worked and delivered newspapers for USA Today at night to help supplement the family's income.

Police have described the slaying as a random act but still do not have any suspects.

The day after her death, investigators released a composite photo of a man wanted for questioning who was seen near the convenience store in the pre-dawn hours of June 14.

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.

On Monday, USA Today published a full-page advertisement detailing the incident, including a possible witness sketch provided by authorities. The paper ran a quarter-page ad Wednesday and planned another full-page spot for Thursday.

"We want to do everything we can to help catch the person who did this," said USA Today spokeswoman Heidi Zimmerman.

Neilsen's husband, Tim, said it was "a big relief knowing" that the newspaper was trying to help.

"All the attention that this case is getting is potentially helpful because we are still working to generate information from the public," Sughrue told The Associated Press. "Detectives potentially only need one piece of information to put them in the right direction."


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  • eagleeyes Jun 28, 2007

    The family wants this story to have the exposure it deserves and I dont believe its had it yet. The "Person of Interest" is still out there and someone knows them and isnt saying anything. Maybe, if they see the story about Jenna enough, they might grow a conscience and tell what they know. There may be someone out there that knows something, but doesnt think its pertinent. Everything matters and they may just need that one little bit of information to solve this horrible crime. But the most important thing now is, find the killer. This person is out there,he/she could be your neighbor. Jenna has been laid to rest. That is the only closure the family may get, but we all have a duty as Americans, to take care of each other and look out for one another. We have all become accustomed to looking out for ourselves. That is not what America was built on. I believe the media needs to do more coverage on this and more tips need to come in. Imagine if Jenna was your daughter/wife/sister/mother.

  • Rocknhorse Jun 28, 2007

    tooblessed-I understand what you are saying and I don't necessarily disagree. I just know that at a time when things got pretty tight for us (starting our own business), I considered a paper route as a way to get us over that financial hump and avoid day care. My husband, at the time, was working nights and was getting home about the same time that I would have gone to deliver papers. We would avoid daycare b/c one of us would be home with our child at all times (we were trying to make ends meet, therefore daycare was not an option). My sister did this also for a while, same reason. Yes, in a perfect world, it would be nice for the husband to accompany the wife. But in our case, my husband was working a full time job already. The paper route was my idea of a way to help through the tough times. I know several women who have done this so that they could stay home w/kids.

    This is a very sad story!

  • mt06111 Jun 28, 2007

    Mr French says: "Here is a partial list of major unsolved crimes we have in this area:

    1. New Hope Road Wal-Mart abduction. 2. Cary ATM shooting. 3. Jenna Neilsen murder. 4. Michelle Young murder. 5. Circus Restaurant murder. (Anyone even remember that one now?)

    Any others?"

    I'm sure there are plenty in Downtown Durham that have a blurb on the news. However, since that involves African Americans killing each other, the media and the average American doesn't care about those.

    That's just sad.

  • O-Get-A-Grip Jun 28, 2007

    I think we should start doing to the guilty whatever they did to the victims. If you stabbed a victim 17 times, then a panel gets to stab you 17 times, etc.

  • wwcfr8dawg Jun 28, 2007

    Notice how the man haters keep saying focus on the husband and that the Mexican haters say keep focusing on Latinos.

    How about we polygraph the eye-witness that claimed he saw a "illegal Mexican" lurking about and if he/she doesn't pass the polygraph, we charge them with lying to police.

    If the eye-witness is telling the truth, then the police should locate the next most convenient Latino and charge them with what crime the witness saw...which was NC Revised statutes pertaining to Latinos committing grand mopery with intent to gawk.

  • raptor101 Jun 28, 2007

    Nana... there is no closure until this scumbag is caught.. till then, it would only hurt the family more if they though people had already forgotten

  • tooblessed Jun 28, 2007

    I think you read it wrong, what I'm saying is if I was a man I think I would rest a lot better if Me and my childred went with my 8 mo old pregnant wife @ 3:30am. At 8 mos the baby can come @ any time.

  • lboy Jun 28, 2007

    Nana - that is a rediculous comment. Nobody should put this story in the archive and forget about it. The family is working hard to KEEP it on the front page until this scumbag is caught.

    Thanks WRAL and to all the media and RPD who are working feverishly to help catch this murderer.

  • Know All Jun 28, 2007

    Put the fence around Raleigh/Durham downtown and make it a zoo. Charge admission and give it to the schools so they can create more occupants to observe. How do you all live in such an area. I would not. Trust me. "I Know."

  • Nana Jun 28, 2007

    To WRAL:
    I, in my heart, believe it is time to put this story in your archives. I realize the exposure given to this situation may help catch the "evil" person that committed this horrific crime, but, the family needs closure to the pictures and stories.

    May God be with their family.