Local News

Dad makes national plea to find daughter's killer

Posted September 28, 2009 4:05 a.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2009 1:16 p.m. EDT

— The father of a pregnant Fuquay-Varina woman stabbed to death outside a Raleigh convenience store more than two years ago made an emotional plea Monday on national television for help in solving the case.

"I try to get out in the public or in the news as much as I possibly can to keep my daughter's case in the public eye," Kevin Blaine said on the syndicated talk show "The Steve Wilkos Show." "I need the help of the public right now in order to catch this killer."

There have been no arrests in the slaying of Jenna Nielsen, 22, who was found dead in the early hours of June 14, 2007, behind the AmeriKing Food Mart on Lake Wheeler Road.

Police have called the case "very solvable," saying they have DNA evidence and that they continue to follow up on leads.

"They have a lot of evidence," Blaine said. "We have a sketch of a person of interest, we have some eyewitnesses that saw this person of interest, and right now, we need the public to help us find this person."

Also appearing on the show were Nielsen's husband, Tim Nielsen, and the couple's young sons, Schyler and Kaiden. Jenna Nielsen was two weeks away from giving birth to the couple's third son, who was to be named Ethen.

Tim Nielsen did not speak on the show.

The case received widespread attention in the days and weeks following Nielsen's slaying. CNN, Fox News and America’s Most Wanted featured the case on their programs.

Nielsen's employer, USA Today, published several full-page advertisements about the case, and a local advertising company posted a billboard near downtown Raleigh in an effort to generate leads.

Her family has also set up a Web site, justice4jenna.org, to keep the case alive and is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Investigators have interviewed hundreds of people and received thousands of tips, but continue to appeal to the public for any information they might have, regardless of how small it might be.

"We need your help to help us catch this guy," Blaine said. "The police have done everything they can. They need your help."

Early in the investigation, police released a composite photo of a person of interest, but have since backed away from the image, concerned it has narrowed the scope of information they've received and might have been misleading.

They now say the person is a short, slightly built man in his late teens or early 20s with black hair pulled back into a long ponytail. He was wearing a dark-colored sleeveless shirt and baggy denim shorts.

His ethnicity is not known, and detectives are urging people to avoid speculation based upon the physical description.

The police department has dedicated a 24-hour hotline (919-227-6220) to the case. Anyone with information can also call Crime Stoppers at 919-834-4357.

"It's only going to take one phone call to solve this case, and it's going to be from somebody out in the public that knows something that is willing to come forward," Blaine said.

"I mean, we have a reward. I would like nothing better than to pay somebody for them to come up and give us the clue and information that we need."