RALEIGH, N.C. – Michelle Young's 2-year-old daughter was found wandering around the house, tracking blood all over. Mommy has "boo-boos everywhere," the little girl said.
The child's words only hinted at the horror upstairs: Her mother, five months pregnant with her second child, lay dead in the master bedroom, her skull fractured, her face smashed, blood splattered on the wall and a lamp.
Nearly three months later, sheriff's investigators appear to be looking at Young's husband in the killing. But they won't call him a suspect. He is not talking. And authorities are almost as quiet.
"We don't want to say things that might interfere with a fair trial of someone who might be charged at some later point," said District Attorney Colon Willoughby.
Although it has been overshadowed by the Duke lacrosse case, the slaying of the former North Carolina State cheerleader has captured the public's attention in the Triangle — the booming Durham-Raleigh-Chapel Hill area of college students, pharmaceutical company scientists and executives, and other young professionals.
An autopsy report released this week concluded the 29-year-old brunette probably died of blows to the head and appeared also to have been strangled. Some of her teeth were knocked out, and her jaw was broken in several places.
Young died in the $379,000 home she and her husband bought less than two years ago in a neighborhood south of Raleigh. Jason Young, 32, works as a salesman, while his wife was a tax analyst at a utility company.
Details about the investigation have mostly come from court documents, which indicate police are looking closely at Jason Young.
Michelle Young was planning to cut back on her hours, and the court documents indicate the couple were having financial troubles. Jason Young, the papers say, was listed as the beneficiary of a "substantial" life insurance policy that covered his wife.
He was also in near daily contact with a Florida woman, and investigators are looking at cell phone records, videos and digital photos — including trying to recover photos that had been deleted. They seized a computer hard drive.
On Nov. 3, Jason Young left a voice mail for his wife's sister, asking her to go to the house to retrieve some documents. The sister found Michelle Young's body, and discovered her daughter, Cassidy, wandering around. There were no signs that someone had broken in, and authorities have said Young's slaying was no random act.
Authorities searching Jason Young's Ford Explorer found two unidentified blood droplets inside, along with a hotel receipt for Nov. 2. The hotel's location was not disclosed in the warrant, although Sheriff Donnie Harrison has said Young was about 200 miles away visiting family in the mountain town of Brevard when his wife's body was found.
Jason Young's attorney did not return several messages seeking comment. Authorities have said while Young complied with an order to provide evidence that could include fingerprints and a blood sample, he has otherwise been uncooperative.
"You can't help but look at the house every time you drive by," said Jim Tate, who lives down the street. "You can't help but think what that family is going through."