Witness: Durham murder suspect collected knives

jporter@newsobserver.comMay 8, 2013 

— Raven Abaroa, on trial for murder in the fatal stabbing of his wife, once chased a Peeping Tom with a knife, threatening to kill him, a witness testified Wednesday.

Jurors heard from two of Janet Abaroa’s closest friends at Southern Virginia University. They both said she had told them her husband was emotionally abusive and controlling.

Britney Ann Romido, a college soccer teammate, visited the Abaroas’ apartment in Smithfield, Va., after they had graduated. Raven Abaroa told Romido he had recently seen a Peeping Tom on their fire escape and chased the man with a knife.

“Janet called the police while he grabbed a knife,” Romido said. “He followed (the Peeping Tom) down the fire escape, through the woods, down a couple blocks. He said he was going to stab him, he was going to kill him.”

“He collected knives,” Romido added. “Various knives, hunting knives, antique knives with carved handles. … They looked expensive, like nice belongings.”

Raven Abaroa kept the knives in cases, and Romido said she saw his collection when she visited.

After the Abaroas moved to North Carolina, Romido found it difficult to stay in touch with Janet Abaroa.

Janet Abaroa called her from work or from a payphone because Raven Abaroa didn’t like her, Romido testified. She told Romido that her husband opened mail she sent to Janet Abaroa.

Raven Abaroa is charged with fatally stabbing his pregnant wife in 2005 at their Ferrand Drive home. He says he is innocent and that he found his wife’s body in an upstairs room when he returned to the house from a soccer game.

Adrienne Nelson lived with Janet Abaroa in an apartment during college after the Abaroas were married. Nelson described herself as a friend of Raven Abaroa also, but she cut ties with him after Janet Abaroa’s death when she “felt like Raven was lying” about the murder investigation.

Janet Abaroa first emailed Nelson about problems she was having with her husband after Nelson graduated and moved away from Virginia.

“She said Raven was bipolar and wouldn’t take his medicine,” Nelson said. “Raven told her he had an affair their first year of marriage and he was upset with her, saying he was guilty and didn’t want to be married anymore. Then on the church stand a week later, he was preaching how much he loved her, she meant so much to him. She didn’t know what she’d get day to day.”

Janet Abaroa told Nelson her biggest fear was that the couple’s child Kaiden would be left alone with Raven Abaroa, because she didn’t trust him, if the couple ever divorced.

Nelson and another friend called Janet Abaroa at her work the day she was killed.

“Janet was not responsive to us laughing and goofing around,” Nelson said. “She was quiet. I felt like something was wrong. I asked if Raven was being nice like three times, but she would just turn (the conversation) back on Kaiden.”

Porter: 919-593-7884

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