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Judge orders remains of slain Durham woman be exhumed

Posted July 9, 2010

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— A Pennsylvania judge on Friday ordered that the remains of a woman killed in her Durham home five years ago be exhumed so authorities can search for evidence in her death.

Janet Abaroa, 25, was pregnant with her second child when she was stabbed to death in an upstairs room at the couple's Durham home on April 26, 2005.

According to court documents, Durham police want to exhume Abaroa's body to get fingerprints, casts of her hands and to see marks made on her skeleton by the weapon and to check if she was wearing contact lenses.

"This is tough," said Tim Dowd, a spokesman for Abaroa's family. "It's tough losing your daughter. It's even tougher saying, 'Please take her from her final resting place.'"

Police arrested Abaroa's husband, Raven Abaroa, on Feb. 1 in southern Idaho and charged him with first-degree murder in the case. He had moved to Utah and Idaho with the couple's son, Kaiden, after the stabbing and later remarried.

Raven Abaroa, 35, has maintained that he was at a soccer game when his wife was killed and that he found her when he returned home later that night.

He initially had no objections to exhuming his wife's body, but he then refused to sign a court order approving the move.

Raven Abaroa in court Accused killer loses fight over exhuming wife's body

His attorney, Amos Tyndall, filed an objection with the Pennsylvania court, saying the police tests "have no scientific validity" and were "designed to support conclusions the analysts have already reached about the case."

"We're concerned about their methods. That's what we're concerned about," Tyndall said as he entered court Friday afternoon.

The judge rejected their arguments and said authorities could dig up Janet Abaroa's remains from a rural Pennsylvania cemetery on July 19. The body will then be taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa., for testing.

The fingerprints and casts of her hands could allow investigators to determine if blood stains found on Raven Abaroa's clothing came from his wife while she was alive, according to court records. Also, family members said Janet Abaroa always removed her contact lenses before bed, and Raven Abaroa has said that she was in bed before he left for the soccer game.

"This is about justice for Janet," Dowd said. "We're the voice of Janet. We're the only voice she has now. So, I think that our goal here was to just prove to the court that, as excruciatingly difficult as this is, it's necessary."

Raven Abaroa remains in the Durham County jail under a $5 million bond.

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  • Bartmeister Jul 9, 2010

    @mountainlover - Bartmeister: There is not enough information in the article to know whether or not the contacts would prove something. I have worn mine for forty years and have not fallen asleep with them in over three times in my life. Like your wife, those three time happened when I was in front of a TV in my den. I have NEVER gotten into bed with my contacts in. There is not a TV in my bedroom. My family knows all of above about me. If I were in this situation, it would say a good bit if contacts were found in my eyes. Remember he said she already was in bed when he went to the soccer game.

    They said she was in bed, not asleep. I think the media has it wrong here. Doesn't add up.

  • GOPACK80 Jul 9, 2010

    “An apparent bloody impression of a human hand was found on the clothing that Raven Abaroa allegedly wore during the incident.
    Investigating officers did not initially request fingerprints or measurements of Janet Christiansen Abaroa’s hands"
    http://www.herald-mail.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=248741&format=html
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    ++++
    How could the cops miss this 'bloody hand-print' on his sweatshirt early on? Sounds like this is their best 'smoking gun' evidence, as the DA said in court "His bloody sweatshirt links Abaroa to his wife's death".

  • shortcake53 Jul 9, 2010

    I truely hope the family gets the answers they so desperately need. And may Janet finally rest in peace afterward.

  • GOPACK80 Jul 9, 2010

    If she had been embalmed prior to the burial the funeral director would have noticed if contacts were on her eyes. In preparation for viewing,small cup shaped stabilizers are placed over the eye to keep the eyelids elevated. If the coroner didn't see them, the funeral home should have. Curious
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    --
    You are correct about the eye-caps the embalmer uses. However, the caps would just be inserted on the eye. A contact lens in place would make no difference at this point. Very doubtful they would be noticed one way or another.

  • SweetB Jul 9, 2010

    Thank God they are advocates for her! I always said to my own family, if my death is wierd...PLEASE go to all lengths to prove, "you know who did it".
    I hope "this" murderer gets his...
    R.I.P. Janet.

  • tattooed1 Jul 9, 2010

    If she had been embalmed prior to the burial the funeral director would have noticed if contacts were on her eyes. In preparation for viewing,small cup shaped stabilizers are placed over the eye to keep the eyelids elevated. If the coroner didn't see them, the funeral home should have. Curious.

  • dogsrule12cheek Jul 9, 2010

    Thank God maybe there will be true Justice for Janet and her babies and the family.

  • Scubagirl Jul 9, 2010

    Good! Now after this is finished it can be put to rest forever. My first thought when I heard the husband was the ONLY one who didn't want the body exhumed was 'Of COURSE he doesn't!' If he has nothing to hide why object. Glad the judge went with the family and not the husband.

  • Toogie Jul 9, 2010

    He's not her husband anymore, he's remarried. He should have no say whatsoever..

  • autismawareness Jul 9, 2010

    of course he's gulity if he was arrested!

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