Local News

6 Months Later, Young Murder Case Still Unsolved

Posted May 2, 2007 8:40 p.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2007 1:35 p.m. EDT

— Michelle Young was devoted to her family and supportive of her friends and coworkers, and in the busyness of life, she would make a conscious choice to make time for those who needed her.

But her first love was being a mom, Young's own mother recalled.

"Michelle loved spending time with (her daughter) Cassidy and lit up just talking about her," Linda Fisher said.

Six months ago, Young, a senior financial consultant for Progress Energy, was found dead inside her south Raleigh home. Five-months pregnant, the 29-year-old was laying facedown on her stomach in her bedroom. Her 2-year-old daughter, Cassidy, was unharmed at her side.

The case remains unsolved as investigators pore over evidence and continue to interview witnesses. People close to the case don't want any piece of evidence overlooked, but they also want an arrest.

"Bring someone else in. Bring in the FBI. I don't know. It's just taking too long," said Marie Stranad, who lived near Young in the Enchanted Oaks subdivision. "That woman went through a horrible, horrible ordeal."

According to an autopsy report, Young died from blunt force trauma to the head after being hit at least 10 times. Several of her teeth were knocked out, her jaw was broken, and she had bruises on both hands. She also had injuries to her neck that showed her killer also tried to strangle her.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison has said the case is complex and that investigators don't want to rush to judgment. He has said, however, that progress is being made.

"It's a case that we're just taking our time (with) and making sure," he said.

Authorities have said they do not believe Young's slaying was a random act, but they have not said whether they have suspects in the case.

Young was last seen alive at about 10:30 p.m. the night before her body was found. Authorities said she had been entertaining some friends at her home.

Her husband, Jason Young, who was out of town at the time, has appeared to be a focus of the case, but Wake County sheriff's investigators have not called him a suspect.

"The sheriff's department has been very careful, as I understand it, in keeping an open mind and not narrowing it and coming up with one suspect," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt told WRAL in her first interview about the case.

Young talked with investigators the day his wife's body was found and later gave fingerprints under a court order, but Harrison said he has generally been uncooperative with law-enforcement authorities.

"Why hasn't he talked to us? I can't give you that answer, because he won't talk to us," Harrison said. "If he talked to us, would it help this case? Absolutely."

Authorities have said very little publicly about the case, but search warrants show that there might have been problems in the Youngs' marriage and that Jason Young might have been having a relationship with a Florida woman prior to his wife's death.

Investigators seized computer disks, photographs, cellular phones, computers, financial records, insurance papers and Jason Young's Ford Explorer, among other items.

But a piece of evidence that was missed were tests to determine whether Young was sexually assaulted.

According to the autopsy report, the North Carolina medical examiner never performed any, which means investigators cannot rule out sexual assault as a motive for the crime.

North Carolina medical examiner John Butts said such tests are only performed when there is obvious evidence at the scene or on the victim's body of sexual assault or when law enforcement officers request it.

"Collection of such (rape) kits is not routine for female homicide victims, unless they fall into these categories," Butts said.

Investigators would not comment on how, if at all, that could affect the case.

Friends and family, meanwhile, continue to hold out for resolution and for their loved one's killer to be brought to justice.

"We hope that if anybody knows anything, however small, they will come forward with information," said Jennifer Powers, a longtime friend of Michelle's who spoke to her two days before her death.

"We had so much fun growing up together, and I was really looking forward to growing old together," she said.