Local News

Michelle Young murder probe focused on husband

Posted August 18, 2008 11:32 a.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2008 9:15 p.m. EDT

— The husband of a pregnant woman who was found beaten to death in her Raleigh home nearly two years ago refused to help investigators or talk with detectives until he had retained a lawyer, according to newly disclosed search warrants.

The warrants, unsealed Monday, also show police found DNA evidence belonging to Jason Young in blood spatter at the crime scene and bloody shoe prints on a pillow there inside the couple's home at 5108 Birchleaf Drive.

Michelle Young, 29, was found dead in the bedroom of the house Nov. 3, 2006. Her daughter, Cassidy, then 2, was by her mother's side and was unhurt. Investigators have said do not think the crime was random.

Michelle Young was last seen alive at 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 2. Jason Young was out of town on business when his wife's body was found, authorities said.

In affidavits submitted to the court Feb. 13 in support of search warrants for the homes of Jason Young's mother in Brevard and sister in Etowah, detectives said they had tried enlisting his assistance in the early stages of the investigation, but that he refused.

"Due to Jason Young's lack of cooperation, it became necessary for investigators to confirm his whereabouts during the evening of Nov. 2, 2006, and the early morning hours of Nov. 3, 2006," authorities wrote in the affidavit.

Hotel surveillance video

Wake County sheriff's investigators seized computer records and video from 14 surveillance cameras from the Hillsville Hampton Inn in Virginia – more than 170 miles from Raleigh – where Jason Young claimed to be at the time of his wife's death.

The affidavits stated that video shows Jason Young in the lobby of the hotel between 10:49 p.m. and 10:51 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2006, wearing a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt with buttons at the neck. He is visible again on video recorded at 11:59 p.m. wearing a dark, long-sleeved shirt with a light-colored horizontal stripe.

Shortly after his second appearance, he is shown headed toward a side exit where hotel employees discovered a rock had been placed in the door jam to keep the door from closing and automatically locking, investigators said.

"It also made it unnecessary for anyone to use their keycard when re-entering through this door. This is important because the keycard system records when a keycard is used. It also records to whom the keycard has been assigned."

Jason Young's key card was used on one occasion, approximately six minutes after he checked into the hotel, according to the affidavits.

On the day of Michelle Young's death, Jason Young went to his mother's house in Brevard. His mother, Pat Young, and stepfather, Gerald McIntyre, told investigators that Jason did not remove any luggage from his SUV while at their house and did not wash, change or throw away any clothing.

After learning of Michelle Young's death, he headed back to Raleigh with his parents, sister and brother-in-law, the warrant states. Upon his arrival at the home of his sister-in-law, uniformed deputies searched his car and seized the contents. According to the warrant, the dark shirt seen in hotel video was not recovered.

Shoe prints and DNA evidence

Investigators also identified two footprints on a pillow at the crime scene – one made by a Franklin athletic shoe and another made by a Hush Puppies brand shoe. They followed up with a DSW Shoe Warehouse store after a purchase card for that store was found in the Young residence.

Similar impressions of shoe prints were found on some stained decking boards during a search of the home more than a year later, investigators said.

Records show that Jason Young purchased four pairs of shoes on July 4, 2005, including Hush Puppies with the same sole style as that found at the crime scene. The warrants, however, did not indicate whether police found the Hush Puppies.

Investigators also found DNA on a closet near where Michelle Young's body was discovered, and it that matched Jason Young's. A partial DNA sample found on a jewelry box was a partial match that could not exclude Jason Young.

Cash among missing items

Investigators said that during a May 3, 2007, interview with Jason Young's mother, Pat Young identified several items missing from the crime scene, including a white and yellow gold bracelet, an egg-shaped sterling silver tooth box, a man's platinum wedding ring, a pair of diamond earrings and a pearl necklace.

Approximately $500 in cash was also missing, and, according to the affidavits, investigators were looking for cash gas receipts.

"If Jason Young returned to his residence on the night of Nov. 2, 2006, and/or the morning of Nov. 3, 2006, he would have needed to purchase additional fuel for his car. In order to avoid making a recorded bank and/or credit card transaction, a cash purchase would have been necessary," they wrote.

Still no suspects

Although the three search warrants focus on Jason Young, he has not been named a suspect in his wife's slaying.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison declined to comment on the case Monday, but he said in a Feb. 18 interview that detectives were following up on everything they could.

"It just takes time," Harrison said. "There's so much involved in this case – so many things involved in this case – that we just want to take our time, and this is just a part of it."

Jason Young and his daughter moved to the western part of the state and are now living at this mother's home.

The house on Birchleaf Drive was put on the market last July and was recently sold.

Jason Young's attorney could not be reached for comment Monday.