Local News

Single Stab Wound to Neck Killed Pregnant Newspaper Carrier

Posted July 19, 2007 11:14 a.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2007 2:20 p.m. EDT

— 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 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.