Local News

Police: Pregnant Paper Carrier Was Stabbed

Posted June 27, 2007 1:57 p.m. EDT
Updated June 27, 2007 7:15 p.m. EDT

— 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."