State News

Defense: Inmate confessed to killing UNCC student

Posted February 3, 2009

— Attorneys for two cousins accused of killing a Chapel Hill woman last year said Monday that a man being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail has confessed to the crime.

Mark Bradley Carver, 40, of Gastonia, and Neal Leon Cassada Jr., 54, of Mount Holly, are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the May 5 death of 20-year-old Irina Yarmolenko, a University of North Carolina-Charlotte student and Chapel Hill High School graduate.

Yarmolenko's body was found on the bank of the Catawba River in Mount Holly. An autopsy determined she had been strangled.

DNA has linked two men, who are cousins, to Yarmolenko's car, which was next to the body, State Bureau of Investigation Agent David Crow testified Monday at a bond hearing.

Crow said the men's DNA was found inside the car. He said the men told him they were fishing nearby.

He also said authorities believe Yarmolenko went to the river to take photos for a university photo class.

Carver's lawyer said during the hearing that DNA from another person was found in the vehicle, too.

Cassada's lawyer, David Phillips, said another man in the Mecklenburg County jail had confessed to the slaying in a letter to a television station, but refused to talk to investigators.

The confession was from a 37-year-old man who was locked up May 21 – two weeks after Yarmolenko was killed – on rape charges, Phillips said.

The man said in his letter that he and some friends killed Yarmolenko after they had smoked crack cocaine all night and needed money for more drugs, Phillips said. The man said the thought of the slaying keeps him up at night, Phillips said.

The defense attorneys asked that the $1 million bonds for Carver and Cassada be reduced. The men are not flight risks because of family ties in Gaston County and have cooperated with police during the investigation, The attorneys said.

Gaston County Superior Court Judge Timothy L. Patti said he hoped to make a ruling this week.


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  • woodrowboyd2 Feb 3, 2009

    you people should read the story again
    i think you are all confused

  • SomeRandomGuy Feb 3, 2009

    SO does the DNA from the guy that confessed match the unknown DNA sample in the car or what???

  • the river rat Feb 3, 2009

    Wonder how much that confession costed?

  • shakenbake68 Feb 3, 2009

    very odd.
    Here is my understanding: the two accused cousins’s DNA was found in the vehicle.
    However, a totally separate person who is currently in jail, confessed to the crime.

  • rcrdngcountry Feb 3, 2009

    oh, i"m sure he loses a lot of sleep over this murder. why won't these duds working. there were plenty of jobs back then.
    they rather kill than work, to get their money, to buy their
    drugs. here we are again, it all goes back to the death penilty.
    oh yea, judge, go ahead and let them out on bond. they are
    outstanding citizens, they won't hurt no one else.

  • Xiaoding Feb 3, 2009

    93: Ah, I see. Put them away for life, then, they are lying.

  • 93notch Feb 3, 2009

    Xiaoding,the two suspects were cousins.not the suspects and the victim.

  • Common Sense Man Feb 3, 2009

    A defense attorney trying the case in the media, noooooooooooo, can't be.

  • Xiaoding Feb 3, 2009

    Uh...they were cousins? Did they hang out? So DNA in the car is not a problem. DNA doesn't lie, but it don't tell you much, either.

  • riddick Feb 3, 2009

    Killed her for crack money. Wow!