Man pleads guilty in 2018 murder of Durham woman stabbed 147 times

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Michael Anthony Person pleaded guilty on Wednesday to second-degree murder in the 2018 murder of Alicia Elder.

Person, 59, was arrested after Elder, 50, was found dead at a Durham park in January 2018 after being stabbed 147 times.

Michael Anthony Person in court on Aug. 25, 2021.

Police originally responded to the call of Elder being found dead just after 9 p.m. at Hillside Park off of S. Roxboro Street.

Elder had 31 stab wounds in her head and neck, 20 on her torso, six around her upper-left extremity, and four on her right upper extremity, her autopsy report revealed.

Those wounds add to the 61 stab wounds also found across her body, a previous report said.

Investigators said the stabbing attack was not random but have not released how Person and Elder knew each other, or a motive in the killing.

In court on Wednesday morning, family and friends gave impact statements.

“Seeing my mother, the way she was at that crime scene, has permanently traumatized me,” said Elder’s daughter, Andrea Elder-Spencer.

Lenette Jones, a friend of Elder’s spoke directly to Person, saying “You stabbed her over 130 something times for no reason! You took their mother, their sister, my best friend, you just don’t understand!”

Person has served multiple prison terms since the 1980s and convictions include assaulting women, drug possession, and second-degree kidnapping.

The defense did call some witnesses from church groups who worked with Person when he was released from prison in 2015.

Those witnesses said Person was a kind and loyal individual and that he was successful at completing programs that prepare those who are formerly incarcerated to re-enter society.

Person was ultimately sentenced on Wednesday morning to a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum of 31 years.

In an interview following the sentencing, Elder-Spencer said Elder loved to serve her community.

“She was a beautiful lady,” Elder-Spencer said. “She would go into the community and take groceries to people in the community who were hungry in the middle of the night. She would also take school supplies to the kids no matter what time it was.”

Some of Elder’s family members think this sentencing will bring some closure.

“I think it helps us to move forward in a way that we struggled with over the last 3 or 4 years,” said family member Sheril Granger.

But Elder’s daughter said they’ll never have justice.

“I don’t feel like justice was served, I don’t think it will ever be served,” Elder-Spencer said. “I don’t know why he did it, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never find out.”

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