Wife stabbed to death had hairs in her fingers, Durham investigator says

jporter@newsobserver.comApril 30, 2013 

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Murder defendant Raven Samuel Abaroa listens Monday afternoon, April 22, 2013, as defense attorney Mani Dexter explains a defense motion to see letters provided to law enforcement from a witness in Abaroa's murder case before presiding Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. Abaroa, a Durham resident, is charged with killing his wife, Janet Christiansen Abaroa, in 2005.

HARRY LYNCH — hlynch@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Jurors in the trial of the former Durham man accused of fatally stabbing his pregnant wife eight years ago saw graphic crime-scene pictures Tuesday that show Janet Abaroa clutching hairs in her fingers.

“We were looking at an injury to her finger,” said Donna Jackson, the police investigator at the time. “It appeared to be one, maybe two injuries because of the way it went into the finger. It was hard to ascertain whether it was one continuous injury or two.”

The injuries were to the fingers of the left hand.

In a close-up of Abaroa’s right hand, “We’re looking at hairs in the grasp of her fingers,” Jackson continued. “We couldn’t tell what type of hairs it was at this point.”

Jackson and the two investigators working with her collected the hairs with trace tape.

Jackson said she was told that a shoeprint next to the body had been made by a medical responder, but she couldn’t recall whose print it was or who had told her that.

In a video and photos, Janet Abaroa’s shirt was pulled up to her neck, and there was a bloody handprint on her chest. Her arms were spread out above her head and her head was turned to her right, her mouth open. Her feet were toward the doorway of the room.

First responders Jason Williams and William Benhart said they found the body in this position during their initial sweep of the house.

Other officers called to the scene said Raven Abaroa reported moving his wife’s body before he called 911.

Officer Christopher Baker said Raven Abaroa told him that when he returned from a soccer game the night of April 26, 2005, he “walked inside the side door, went upstairs and saw my wife crouched over, like when she had PMS pains.”

Raven Abaroa told Baker and Officer Amanda Laeng-Craig that he tried talking to his wife and turned on the light in the room. He saw blood on the floor and rolled Janet Abaroa onto her back.

Her lips felt cold, Raven Abaroa said.S

He began yelling, ran to find his cellphone and called police, he said.

The video and photos jurors saw showed the inside and outside of the couple’s home at 2606 Ferrand Drive, as well as the couple’s Dodge Durango and other images of the property.

Photos of locks on various doors showed no signs of a break-in.

Photographs showed the foyer of the house, where investigators found a cellphone smeared with blood and loose papers on the floor. Another photo showed a set of wedding rings lying on a towel on the kitchen counter.

The porch and deck were coated with pollen that had not been disturbed.

“There appeared to have been no activity on the back deck,” Jackson said.

Raven Abaroa, 33, is charged with first-degree murder. He looked away when the images of Janet Abaroa’s body were shown in court.

Porter: 919-593-7884

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