Local News

Single Stab Wound to Neck Killed Pregnant Newspaper Carrier

Posted July 19, 2007
Updated July 21, 2007

— A pregnant Fuquay-Varina woman who was found slain behind a Raleigh convenience store died from a single stab wound to her neck, according to the autopsy report released Thursday.

A one-inch-wide wound went 3.7 inches into the left side of Jenna Nielsen's neck, hitting her carotid artery and her internal jugular vein, the autopsy found.

Medical examiners also gathered evidence for a rape kit, but the report contained no information that Nielsen, 22, was raped or sexually assaulted.

It did say, however, that her pants and underwear had been pulled down. Because Nielsen was partially clothed, sources close to the case have told WRAL that it is possible that her killer attempted to rape her and that when she struggled, she was fatally wounded.

"This is the most information that we've seen to date," Nielsen's father, Kevin Blaine said. (Watch the full interview.)

Raleigh police have released few details about the case — something Blaine and Nielsen's husband, Tim, said they understand and respect. But they said the report has provided them much-needed answers about what happened.

"It's something else to take in, something else that I'm going to have to get over and cope with," Tim Nielsen said. "This right here pretty much summed all my questions up."

"The only comfort I get from that is knowing that she wasn't sexually assaulted," Blaine added. "That was one of my biggest worries."

The report shows Nielsen also had abrasions to both elbows, her right knee and left shin that, according to the medical examiner, could have been caused by a fall or from being dragged. The report also indicates a single hair found on the back of her right hand but does not specify whether it belonged to Nielsen or her attacker.

Nielsen was pregnant with her third child, a boy to be named Ethen, at the time of her death.

According to the autopsy, the fetus was approximately 38 to 40 weeks and healthy, weighing about 6.35 pounds and was about 19.9 inches long.

Raleigh police found Nielsen's body at approximately 4:30 a.m. June 14 behind the AmeriKing Food Mart at 1709 Lake Wheeler Road. The store was on Nielsen's newspaper delivery route for USA Today.

Investigators recovered a bloody knife near the crime scene later that day, but police have not said whether it was the murder weapon.

Nielsen's family has set up a Web site, justice4jenna.org,, in an effort to keep the case alive. It has received more than 28,000 hits, Blaine said. The family is also offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.

"There's a killer out there," Tim Nielsen said. "He did this to my wife and my son. He could do it to anybody. This person had no remorse about what he did."

Police have no suspects in the case, but have released a composite photo of a person of interest wanted for questioning.

He is described as being in his 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 call the Raleigh Police Department's tip line at 919-227-6220.


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  • didyouhearme Jul 21, 2007

    Hmmm. Did you ever think that since she was on a regular route, the perp was someone she knew? Perhaps someone who sits there all the time. Do criminals still return to the scene of the crime? just wondering. Because maybe he is still sitting there or hanging out there. She left the car running. the lights were on. Nothing else was missing. No rape. Tell me, if you were going to rob someone, would you leave a running car or take it with you? I get the feeling it was someone she knew.
    Just don't ask me to go there and wait. He might have been there frequently at that hour. Just a thought.
    If only a chilling one.

  • JAT Jul 20, 2007

    The killer knows what he did and has no reason to read the coroner's report. The only thing that would slightly interest him is the fact that a hair was found. That's it. Anyone else of even reasonable intelligence could have made up the rest just by reading the news or watching TV. An autopsy is public record so anyone could get it upon request. Publishing it is just saving people a trip downtown.

  • mythoughts22 Jul 20, 2007

    JAT: i agree but if you read my post my point is not i didnt want to read i just dont think that they need to leak that much information because they could have been stuff only maybe the killer knew and now thats out the window

  • doodad Jul 20, 2007

    Let's see, 38 to 40 weeks? That's 38 X 7 = 266/30 days =8.87 to(40wks) 9.33 months.

  • JAT Jul 20, 2007

    And remember, people, you don't have to read the report just because it's there......

  • doodad Jul 20, 2007

    Fetus is a medical term but the point was that an unborn baby has not always been referred to as a fetus by the media. GET IT?

  • mythoughts22 Jul 20, 2007

    it is not that i dont want to know if she was stabbed i just dont think it is appropriate to put every detail i mean if you release that information everyone will know instead of if you have a suspect who says "oh yeah she had some marks on her elbows and her pants where half way pulled down" well then you know he was one of the last people to see her and maybe he is a suspect...but instead they have given everyone that information..and yes the family has worked i have signed the petition and it is great but there are privacy laws if you read the forms you fill out going to a new doctor you have to sign to release your information and put one person who can have access to that....i work for the state and when we need a kids med. info we have to have the parent sign a form..i still think this is a breach of that privacy act

  • silver Jul 20, 2007

    If they can't say how she died, I quess most crimes that deal with death would be removed from the news. If you don't want to know don't read. To me the more details giving maybe it will give a bigger chance of being solved. I do think that we also seen the family in the news several times working with WRAL, and they have a website. How do you come up with privacy?

  • Chasityj25 Jul 20, 2007

    They don't have to have permission that's what we were told when they published my brothers (LeRoy jernigan who was murdered last year) in the newsobserver, believe me we raised cane about that b/c it is a PRIVACY act just like the HIPPA it should be a violation

  • mythoughts22 Jul 20, 2007

    i wonder if the family agreed to let the "media" put the autopsy report out for us to see?? because i know even with death there are still "privacy laws" that can not be broken or someone will be in big trouble... either way this story is just heart breaking and i wish they would catch the person responsible. i am still praying for the family