Husband charged in pregnant wife's killing

Staff writersDecember 15, 2009 

  • 1997: Jason and Michelle Young meet while out with college friends at the now-defunct Have a Nice Day Cafe in Raleigh.

    October 2003: Jason and Michelle Young marry.

    2005: The Youngs buy a house in the Enchanted Oaks subdivision south of Raleigh.

    Nov. 3, 2006: Michelle Young is found face down in a pool of blood in her home; she was pregnant with the couple's second child. Their 2-year-old daughter, Cassidy, was unharmed but had tracked her mother's blood throughout the house. Young's sister, Meredith Fisher, found her after Jason Young asked Fisher to pick up a document from the house. Jason Young was on a business trip to Virginia that included a stop at his parents' home in Brevard.

    November 2006: Jason Young returns to Raleigh. Investigators seize his 2004 Ford Explorer and its contents. He is ordered to give samples of his fingerprints and blood for DNA analysis. He hires a lawyer and refuses to talk to police.

    November 2006-February 2007: In search warrants, investigators say that they found blood in the Explorer and that Young was in nearly constant contact with a Florida woman in the months before his wife's death. Michelle Young was "stressed out over money" and furious about a California vacation her husband took without her, the warrants say.

    January 2007: An autopsy shows that Michelle Young died of blows to her head. She was also strangled and hit repeatedly in the head, face, neck and shoulders. Her jaw was broken.

    August 2008: Previously sealed search warrants show that blood matching Jason Young's DNA was found at the scene of the crime, as well as shoe prints in blood that match shoes he owned. A surveillance camera at the Virginia hotel where he said he was staying shows him leaving around midnight.

    Dec. 5, 2008: A Wake County judge rules in a wrongful death suit filed by Michelle's mother that Jason Young killed his wife.

    March 16, 2009: Another Wake judge orders Jason Young to pay his wife's family more than $15 million in the second phase of the civil suit.

    Dec. 14, 2009: A grand jury indicts Jason Young on a first-degree murder charge.

— Wake County investigators spent more than three years building their case against Jason Young, a husband and father who long had been a prime suspect in the bludgeoning death of his pregnant wife, Michelle.

They collected DNA samples early. They uncovered an extramarital affair with a woman in Florida and a $1 million life insurance policy that listed Jason Young as the sole beneficiary. They attended custody hearings about the couple's young child. They gathered information from a wrongful death suit that awarded $15.5 million to the victim's family in March.

Then Monday, it took only one investigator a little more than 20 minutes to persuade a Wake County grand jury to bring a first-degree murder charge against Jason Lynn Young, a 35-year-old medical-software salesman.

Young, arrested in Brevard, where he has lived near his parents for the past several years, arrived in Raleigh about 7:15 p.m., riding in the back seat of a law enforcement Ford Expedition. Wearing a baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, he was flanked by an SBI agent and a Wake County sheriff's detective as he was led, wrists and ankles shackled, into the downtown public safety building to be booked into the Wake County jail.

No bond was set, but Young was scheduled to appear before a judge today.

Roger W. Smith Jr., his lawyer, declined to comment Monday.

Colon Willoughby, the Wake County district attorney, would not discuss the details of the state's case, nor would he divulge what prompted him to seek an indictment from the grand jury when he did. But he said several court proceedings had helped investigators.

"There was an issue about insurance proceeds," Willoughby told reporters late Monday afternoon. "There was also a wrongful death civil suit that was initiated against him. There was a custody matter that was initiated against him, and in each of those there was information gathered that was helpful in this case."

Found in her home

The indictment came 37 months after Michelle Young, 29 and several months pregnant, was found by her sister lifeless and crumpled in a pool of blood in the master bedroom of the family's house in the Enchanted Oaks neighborhood south of Raleigh. Cassidy, the Youngs' 2-year-old daughter, had not been physically harmed but had tracked tiny bloody footprints throughout the house.

The case drew national interest. Cable talk show hosts broadcast the early twists and turns. People magazine assigned several writers to the story.

Willoughby said Monday that building a forensic case in domestic homicides can be difficult.

Hairs and DNA evidence that might be telling in other cases might not have as much significance when two people share a home.

Nevertheless, investigators turned their attention to Jason Young early in the investigation, despite his claims that he was out of town on a business trip when the homicide occurred.

Building a case

On Nov. 3, 2006, the day his wife was found, Young was ordered to submit DNA samples.

Search warrants over the years revealed that detectives also seized the 2004 Ford Explorer that Young drove and discovered blood in the SUV. Investigators also learned that he was involved in an extramarital affair with a woman living in Florida, court documents show.

More recent search warrants described the Young marriage as a volatile union with "huge" and "loud" fights that would go on for hours.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison has repeatedly described Jason Young as "uncooperative" with investigators since the discovery of his wife's body.

Young did not show up for the court proceedings in February when a judge awarded the custody of Cassidy to Linda Fisher of Sayville, N.Y., the maternal grandmother of the now 5-year-old girl. Nor was he present for the legal proceedings in March when a judge declared him civilly responsible for his wife's death.

Today, though, Wake County deputies will take Jason Young from his cell and, three years and one month after his wife was killed, escort him into a courtroom. or 919-932-8741

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