RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A father is still clinging to hope that police will find out who killed his daughter and her unborn baby.
It’s been 10 years since Jenna Nielsen was murdered but he believes the case is still solvable.
And that the murderer is still out there.
Nielsen’s father, Kevin Blaine, said he feels “miffed” 10 years on.
“I was hoping it would be solved quickly, I think like anyone else, but as the years have drug by…still nothing,” Blaine said.
Nielsen moved to Raleigh her husband and two kids.
The 22-year-old was anxiously awaiting the arrival of Ethan, her third child.
“She was one of those kids that was bubbly, life of the party, always wanted to be the center of attention. Cute. Great mother,” Blaine said.
And like a great young mother – she strived to provide for her little ones.
Her husband worked during the day and she took a job delivering newspapers early in the morning.
“Never was there any worry about what she was doing, she never brought that to us at all,” Blaine said.
It was June 14, 2007 when Nielsen was on her route but her family didn’t hear from her.
“We assumed she must have gone into labor, she’s at a hospital so we’ll start making some phone calls. And it wasn’t but 15 minutes after that I get a call from my son-in-law that says come to the house as fast as you can, I’ll tell you when you get here,” Blaine said.
“Of course when you pull up, there’s a police car in the driveway, two guys in suits. Your heart just drops.”
It was exactly what Blaine feared.
Someone murdered Nielsen just weeks before her due date.
“There were so many things going through my mind like, ‘What happened?’ You can only assume the worst. And then the details,” Blaine said.
Her body was found behind a gas station at the intersection of Lake Wheeler Road and Centennial Parkway – one of the stops on her delivery route.
Her car was still running and her purse was still inside the vehicle.
Detectives say while going back to her car when someone sneaked up behind her and stabbed her in the throat.
“It was brutal, a brutal crime. An innocent woman doing her job,” said Sgt. Matthew Frey with Raleigh police.
Nielsen’s murder baffled police.
“They searched high and low, found a lot of clues but nothing has led to anyone,” Blaine said.
But there was a witness – a person who says they saw the man responsible and police later released a sketch.
Nielsen’s family took the search nationwide – hoping the show “America’s Most Wanted” would help.
And a tip came through.
“They discovered somebody in Mississippi that matched everything the timeline. Sketch, the whole bit,” said Blaine.
Detectives immediately flew out to question the man.
“They interviewed the guy back there and his alibis played out. He wasn’t the right person,” said Blaine.
It was then back to square one.
“Every single lead starts to become a dead end and that’s why the case has gone for as long as it has. We just keep having to dig,” Frey said.
Nielsen’s husband eventually left Raleigh to raise their children.
Neither are able to really remember the mother who worked so hard for them or the brother they never met.
“I hold out hope. Sure. I’m never going to give up,” Blaine said. “After 10 years you start to wonder.”
Part of that hope comes from DNA evidence that police say they found at the scene.
They won’t give much detail on what that evidence is but say they think this case is solvable.
“If he never gets caught, he has to meet his maker someday and pay for what he’s done,” said Blaine.
The tip line is still open and a $15,000 reward still waiting.
“There’s no closure, there’s always going to be a hole. I mean you have that part of your life that’s taken away,” Blaine said. “You can’t replace that. You can move on and deal with it. But there’s always going to be that hole.”
Nielsen’s murder did spark change.
If the man who killed Nielsen was caught, they would have only been charged with her murder – not Ethan’s.
But her story led North Carolina lawmakers to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in 2011 – better known as “Ethan’s Law.”
It recognizes an unborn child as a second victim of a crime.