Local News

Durham widower's new wife talks to police about unsolved murder

Posted May 13, 2009 6:02 p.m. EDT
Updated May 13, 2009 7:43 p.m. EDT

— Four years after the stabbing death of Janet Abaroa, a pregnant Durham woman, police have new information about her widower, whom they have not ruled out as a suspect in the case.

Janet Christiansen Abaroa was found dead inside an upstairs bedroom at her Ferrand Road home on April 26, 2005. Her 6-month-old son, Kaiden, was also in the home but was unharmed.

Police have said they do not consider the death random and that her husband, Raven Abaroa, is a person of interest in the case.

His new wife, Vanessa Pond, and her parents, recently traveled from Utah for an interview with Durham police investigators. Abaroa and Pond remain married but are estranged.

"He had me convinced that everyone was trying to frame him, everyone was out to get him, and (he) had me there on his side," Pond said in an exclusive interview with NC Wanted.

In an October 2007 interview with Fox 50's NC Wanted, Abaroa said he had nothing to do with his wife's death. He told police he was at a soccer game in Morrisville when she was killed. He found her when he returned home, he said.

Weeks after Janet Abaroa died, he moved to Salt Lake City to be with family and to raise Kaiden.

Abaroa and Pond met in Utah in December 2007, and on Mother's Day of 2008, they were engaged. The day of her bridal shower, Pond said, she saw another side to the man she was to marry.

"He threw me down, and he pushed me around that day," Pond said.

Pond said she searched the Internet for Abaroa's name and found the October 2007 NC Wanted interview.

"He told Vanessa he spent months preparing that interview," her mother, Jodean Pond, said. "And Vanessa was thinking, 'Why would you have to prepare?'"

Vanessa Pond said she also watched a Web video, made by Abaroa, which showed him opening a knife in front of his first wife, talking about it and saying how he likes to collect knives.

"The buck knife video – I was disturbed by it," she said. "He said he never had a knife collection and never had a fascination with them."

As their wedding day approached, Pond's parents said they decided to ask Abaroa directly if he killed his first wife.

"And Raven's response to that was, 'I loved my wife,' in a beating-around-the-bush kind of way," Jodean Pond said.

"Without answering the question directly," Vanessa Pond interjected.

Despite concerns, Pond said people seemed supportive, so she married Abaroa in Utah on Sept. 6, 2008.

"I found out later that nobody liked him," she said.

She described the first night of her honeymoon.

"He was very drunk, and he started talking about how mad he was after Janet died – and kept reiterating how mad he was," she said. "And then, he cuddled up close to me and said, 'I promise I'll never hurt you.' And I didn't know how to take that."

As the marriage progressed, Pond said, Abaroa had rapid mood swings.

"He would say the most horrible things," she said. "And then, moments later, act as if nothing happened. He could go back and forth within seconds."

"I was so scared for Vanessa," Jodean Pond said.

Pond said her greatest heartbreak involves Kaiden and what happened Christmas Eve 2008, the night, she said, Abaroa left her.

"He was in the process of cursing me, calling me names, saying how he hated me, telling me he didn't care if I died," she said. "Then, he said, you know what, I want to hit you so bad, and I can't get in trouble for it anymore. So, he was pushing me around in the bathroom and wouldn't let me out of the bathroom.

"And later, as Raven was leaving, he went downstairs and grabbed Kaiden and said, 'Come on, we have to go. Mommy doesn't want us anymore.' Who does that to a child?"

NC Wanted tried contacting Raven Abaroa for a response to claims his wife made in the interview, but he could not be reached.

Jodean Pond said she did not know of any violence between Abaroa and her daughter.

"I suspected. But I had no idea he was getting violent with her," she said. "To me, that's a dealbreaker."

Vanessa Pond said she felt like she had been played "in every way possible."

"I don't want anyone to be in this same position – ever," she said. "And he'll keep on going. He's starting to slip, and he's becoming more dangerous."