Archive for February, 2007|Monthly archive page

Riddle me this…

A passenger in his own SUV;
Wan and silent or red-faced and sobbing?

The Young pack holds the safety net
Beneath Jason’s tightrope.

Cross Smith’s palm with silver,
And hope springs eternal.

$1,000,000. Baby, that’s a lot of pesos!
A few more than the average death would bring.

Is that a white Bronco in the garage?
Jason drives an Explorer, silly Billy.

The journey spans three states.
In what county does it re-enter North Carolina?

In a perfect world, Cassidy would have her mommy.
In our imperfect world, Mommy’s killer will be tried.

Linda waits for word.
Is her in-law an outlaw?

Turn this riddle every which way,
But don’t lose sight of the big picture.

The answer will get you close;
You must forego the compass to get there.

Solve it,
And you’ll make my day.

Jason’s Journey Addendum

If the previous entry, Jason’s Journey, was too convoluted for you to follow, the map below should help you to follow along. Click on it for an enlarged image.

The legend at the left of the image shows most of the location labels. Marker #9 labels the green area where I believe Jason’s Friday morning business meeting had to have been.

Of course, Jason and some of his family traveled from Brevard back to Raleigh, and ultimately, to Meredith’s house in Fuquay Varina (#8) on Friday evening, but I didn’t feel it necessary to draw that route on the map.

Jason’s Journey

When the murder of Michelle Young was first presented to the public, we learned from media reports only that Jason had traveled to Virginia on business. The exact location of his meeting and hotel were not revealed, and it wasn’t even clear if investigators had that information. It could be inferred that the meeting was most likely in the wester part of Virginia, as his route ostensibly provided the opportunity to swing by his mother’s house in Brevard, North Carolina, before returning to Raleigh. In an earlier entry, I wrote the following in considering potential sites for Jason’s lodging on the night in question:

If he did commit this homicide, I surmise that he probably drove about 3 hours on Thursday evening, checking in to a Hampton Inn in the vicinity of the I-77/I-81 junction, outlined on this map. (The map takes a little while to load but is very helpful in visualizing the itinerary, so be patient. And by all means, use the zoom feature.) That stopping point is a reasonable conjecture regardless of Jason’s innocence or culpability. There are plenty of accommodations there and it is centric to several options for the location of his meeting, in addition to being logistically plausible with the Get-It-Market, the side-trip to Brevard, and a possible return trip to Raleigh during the night.

On Thursday, a CourtTV forum member by the name of RPD received independent confirmation that Jason’s hotel was one of those included in my earlier estimation — the Hillsville Hampton Inn, to be exact. Interestingly, it is the one in that outlined area that is closest to Raleigh, giving Jason a one-way travel time of approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes over 174 miles of interstate highway.

What else do we know or can we surmise of Jason’s travels over those fateful two days? His friend, Rhett Fussell, states that Jason was traveling to Virginia for a business meeting and that he left on Thursday evening to get a head start. Commonly, evening is dinner-time to bed-time, or 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., though some consider evening to extend to midnight. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that Jason ate dinner with his family and hit the road after rush hour traffic dissipated. A forum member by the name of “just the facts” stated early on that Jason had called Michelle around 11 p.m. that night to let her know that he had arrived safely at his hotel. Allegedly, all was well at that time, but that phone call has not been publicly confirmed by any other source. Assuming that it is factual or even feasible, Jason had to have left home prior to 8:15. It seems reasonable to deduce that his departure fell some time in between 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., more likely in the early portion of that spectrum. A CourtTV member who posts under the name Raleigh Resident reported hearing that Jason may have left as early as 4 p.m. If that were the case, where was he throughout the remaining afternoon and evening? He certainly would have had time to make it to his destination rather than stopping for the night less than three hours from his home.

The location and time of Jason’s business meeting are two additional details that investigators have kept close to the vest. However, a CourtTV forum member, and self-described friend of Jason Young, by the name of gojo recently revealed that the meeting was scheduled for 10 a.m. Additionally, a receipt for gas purchase at the Get-It Market places Jason in Duffield, Virginia at some point on Friday, November 3. A full tank of gas could easily have gotten Jason’s 2004 Ford Explorer from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Duffield, Virginia, and beyond. I consider Duffield to be a wayside stop that Jason made after his meeting. Why? For a couple of reasons:

  • It doesn’t seem all that likely for him to have stopped for gas prior to his meeting. If he hadn’t enough gas to make it from Hillsville to the meeting location, he would probably have filled up in Hillsville before embarking on the interstate. Then there’s the possibility of messing up his suit or carrying a gasoline odor with him into the meeting. It just doesn’t fit with my logic, however strange my logic might be.
  • Duffield is more than 40 miles off of I-81, the major thoroughfare to the southwestern corner of the state. The quickest route from Hillsville to Duffield actually takes the driver down into Kingsport, Tennessee and approaches Duffield from the southeast. That route just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me unless Duffield was the intended destination. And I’ve seen nothing to indicate that it was.

I think it’s more likely that the meeting location was somewhere to the north of Duffield and that Jason stopped at the Get-It Market for gas after his meeting, en route to his mother’s Brevard, North Carolina home. The main route to Duffield from the north is US-23, which intersects US-58 some twenty miles north of town, which in turn approaches from Abingdon. Abingdon has long stood out to me as having some significance to the case. (And no, I’m not pretending to be psychic. In looking at the map, Abingdon caught my eye in much the same way that the I-77/I-81 interchange did.) Originally, it seemed like a good candidate for the source of the “Hampton Hotel” receipt found in Jason’s SUV. However, travel distance and time quickly discounted that possibility, and we now know it not to be the case. So what other significance can Abingdon have? I surmise that it is where Jason left the interstate on his Friday morning trek to a business meeting somewhere to the north of Duffield. From thence, he cruised on down the scenic highways to Brevard, stopping briefly at the Get-It Market where he filled the Explorer’s 22-gallon tank and perhaps grabbed a bite to eat. If I am correct in these musings and our friend gojo is correct as to Jason’s 3 p.m. arrival in Brevard, he should have been at the Get-It Market around noon. The receipt and video surveillance tape will eventually tell the tale. Taking a stab at a one-hour meeting which began at 10 a.m. would allow for an hour’s travel time from the meeting to Duffield. There are several towns to choose from; I still contend that the meeting was in Virginia as that has been the claim from Jason’s camp since the earliest days following Michelle’s murder.

As I stated earlier, Jason allegedly arrived at his mother’s home at approximately 3 p.m. His step-father met him in the yard and broke the devastating news of Michelle’s murder, whereupon Jason “fell plumb to his knees.” According to gojo, Jason’s mother, sister and brother-in-law drove him back to Raleigh, setting off around 4:30 p.m. and arriving in Raleigh between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. During the drive, gojo claims, Mrs. Young called the Wake County Sheriff’s Department to let them know that they were on their way and willing to do whatever necessary to assist in the investigation. Meanwhile, Jason was inconsolable and sobbing uncontrollably. The deputy is alleged to have asked if Jason was with her, to which she replied that he was but could not talk at that time, eliciting a “he’d better be with you” response from the deputy. I’ll let you decide for yourself how much weight to give that rendition of events.

It’s still unclear what time Jason and company arrived at Meredith Fisher’s home in Fuquay-Varina to retrieve Cassidy, the Youngs’ 2½ year old daughter. That residence is only about a twenty minute drive from the Youngs’ Enchanted Oaks subdivision. When the Young party arrived, Jason’s SUV was quickly detained and a search warrant for the vehicle was requested by the WCSD. The warrant was issued at 3:15 a.m. and executed at 4 a.m. but it isn’t specified whether the detainment commenced before or after midnight. And it isn’t clear where Jason was from the time he arrived in Raleigh until he showed up at Meredith’s house. What has been relayed through gojo is that Jason entered the house to reunite with his daughter and remained inside while his family dealt with sheriff’s officers outside, hoping to retrieve some of their personal belongings before the vehicle was taken away.

Those are Jason’s travels as we know them to be or can reasonably deduce from the information available. Now it is left to determine whether the journey was a completely innocent business trip or a carefully crafted façade. The window of opportunity for Jason to have committed this crime spans the hours of midnight to 6 a.m., according to the time of death estimation. So it’s important to investigators to verify his whereabouts.

  • The hotel receipt proves only that he checked in at a certain time. Did he check out in the morning? Even if he did, the opportunity to travel to Raleigh and back during the night is still there.
  • Jason was carrying at least one cell phone with him. What do his phone records indicate?Were there pings throughout the night originating in the vicinity of the Hillsville Hampton Inn? That could be explained either of two ways:
    1. Jason was in his hotel room all night and couldn’t possibly have killed Michelle.
    2. Jason left his phone in his hotel room, knowing that its pings could reveal his location.

    Do the pings indicate movement to and from Raleigh? That would present strong circumstantial evidence, and Jason would probably be behind bars right now if it were the case.

    Was his phone turned off at the conclusion of the alleged 11 p.m. phone call and turned back on in the morning? Again, there are two logical explations, one supporting innocence and the other supporting guilt:

    1. He simply turned the phone off for the night to get a good night’s sleep and turned it back on in the morning as he set out for the day.
    2. He turned it off so as not to have his movements recorded, returned to Raleigh, and turned it back on only when he was back in the vicinity of the Hillsville Hampton Inn the next morning.

     

  • A roundtrip return to the Enchanted Oaks residence during the night would have necessitated an additional gas purchase of 17-20 gallons. But there appear to be no other fuel purchases made on the night in question. In fact, the fuel stop in Duffield fits perfectly with Jason’s legitimate business travels and side-trip to Brevard. The innocent explanation is that there were no other fuel stops between the Thursday evening departure from Raleigh and the Get-It Market purchase on Friday. In which case, Jason couldn’t have returned to Raleigh and committed the murder. However there are two alternative explanations:
  1. Jason paid cash for the additional gas purchase and discarded or destroyed the receipt.
  2. Jason carried in the SUV gas cans containing an adequate amount to provide for the extra mileage.
  • I think it’s important to note that between the alleged 11 p.m. phone call from Hillsville and the 10 a.m. meeting in western Virginia, Jason could have spent as many as 3 hours at the crime scene. Did he clean up there? Did Cassidy awaken while he was showering? Gojo has repeatedly made reference to Cassidy’s isolated footprints in the bathroom across the hall. Who carried her in there? Were her little feet cleaned off with the washcloth she mentioned to Meredith during the 911 call? Did Jason get her back to sleep and spend as much time as possible with her before he felt compelled to hit the road in order to keep his business appointment? There are so many questions I’d like to have the answers to, but I’ll never understand how he could leave her there alone with her mommy’s bloody corpse.
  • What can be deduced from the above information and musings? Either Jason Young is innocent, or he gave careful thought and consideration to ensuring that the return to Raleigh would not be documented, and verifiable information indicating his whereabouts would jibe with the legitimate business trip. Investigators have their work cut out for them, as does Jason’s attorney. Will forensic evidence at the scene of the crime prove Jason was there when the murder was committed and make all of these cogitations moot? Are there any witness sightings placing Jason Young where he shouldn’t have been between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.? Does Jason Young have information to prove that he was indeed where he claims to have been? Time will tell.

    Meredith’s 911 Call

    The following is a transcript that I typed up while listening to the tape of Meredith Fisher’s 911 call of November 3, 2006 at approximately 1:30 pm. Meredith reportedly entered her sister’s home, 5108 Birchleaf Drive in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the request of her brother-in-law, who asked her to retrieve some documents for him. This is not an official transcript.

    DISPATCHER: 911 State your emergency

    MEREDITH: I need an ambulance. It’s an emergency.

    DISPATCHER: What address are you at Ma’am?

    MEREDITH: Um Birchleaf…5108 Birchleaf Road

    DISPATCHER: Okay and your phone number?

    MEREDITH: Oh my God

    DISPATCHER: Ma’am, what’s your phone number in case I lose you

    MEREDITH: Um…(deleted)…hang on. Let me look at the phone. (deleted)

    DISPATCHER: Alright, what’s the problem. Tell me exactly what happened.

    MEREDITH: Um…I…I…I think my sister’s dead.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, tell me what happened, ma’am.

    MEREDITH: I have no idea. Oh my God.

    DISPATCHER: Alright stay on the phone with me please.

    MEREDITH: Um.

    DISPATCHER: What’s your name?

    MEREDITH: Meredith Fisher

    DISPATCHER: Alright, Meredith.

    MEREDITH: And this is the Young address. Oh my God.

    DISPATCHER: Meredith, listen to me please.

    MEREDITH: Yeah.

    DISPATCHER: Are you with the patient now?

    MEREDITH: Yes and her daughter. And…she’s…

    DISPATCHER: Okay, how old is the patient?

    MEREDITH: …and there’s blood everywhere. She’s 28…29

    DISPATCHER: 28?

    MEREDITH: Should I try to move her?

    DISPATCHER: Listen to me, ma’am.

    MEREDITH: Yes sir.

    DISPATCHER: I’m gonna tell you what to do, but you need to calm down so we can help her. You said there’s blood everywhere?

    MEREDITH: Yes.

    DISPATCHER: Alright. Is she conscious?

    MEREDITH: N…, I don’t think so. Should I try to help her?

    DISPATCHER: Listen to me, ma’am.

    MEREDITH: I’m listening.

    DISPATCHER: Is she breathing?

    MEREDITH: I don’t think so.

    DISPATCHER: Have you checked?

    MEREDITH: Michelle? [pause] She’s cold.

    DISPATCHER: Okay. Listen to me. Did you see what happened?

    MEREDITH: I don’t know. Cassidy, come here, sweetie. I’m here with her daughter.

    DISPATCHER: Okay.

    MEREDITH: There’s…there’s like blood footprints all over the house from her daugther…like her daughter’s little footprints.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, listen to me. What’s your first name?

    MEREDITH: Meredith

    DISPATCHER: Alright, Meredith…

    MEREDITH: Yes sir.

    DISPATCHER: Did you see what happened?

    MEREDITH: I..I..I just came here on a fluke. I usually, you know, don’t come here during the day.

    DISPATCHER: Okay.

    MEREDITH: She shouldn’t be home. She should be at work. Like…

    DISPATCHER: Okay, listen to me.

    MEREDITH: Yes sir.

    MEREDITH: I…I…[inaudible] right now.

    DISPATCHER: Did you say…Can you tell me why she looks dead…looks like she’s dead?

    MEREDITH: I don’t know. I have no idea. There’s blood all over the place.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, did you say she’s cold?

    MEREDITH: Sh..uh yes.

    DISPATCHER: Okay.

    MEREDITH: Yes.

    DISPATCHER: Alright, stay on the phone.

    MEREDITH: Okay

    CASSIDY: [inaudible] there’s blood. Can you see my…[inaudible]…get a washcloth into my…[inaudible]…?

    MEREDITH: Yes, sweetie.

    CASSIDY: [inaudible]

    MEREDITH: Sweetie, do you know what happened to Mommy?

    CASSIDY: Uhn-uh

    MEREDITH: Did she fall?

    CASSIDY: Um…um…she gotta boo…She got boo-boos everywhere and…and…she got…

    DISPATCHER: Alright, do you think she’s beyond any help?

    MEREDITH: I don’t know. Honestly, um…

    DISPATCHER: You don’t know? Alright

    MEREDITH: I’m normally very good under pressure.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, we’re gonna tell you what to do then. Okay?

    MEREDITH: Yes, sir.

    DISPATCHER: Are you right by her now?

    MEREDITH: I…I’m keeping her daughter out of there.

    DISPATCHER: Okay. Alright, so you’re not with her?

    MEREDITH: I’m right outside the bedroom.

    DISPATCHER: Can you get her daughter secured s…Can you carry the phone to where she’s at?

    MEREDITH: Yes.

    DISPATCHER: Alright. Can you secure her daughter?

    MEREDITH: Cassidy, sweetie, can you stay in your room for two seconds, okay?

    CASSIDY: Okay.

    MEREDITH: Okay, can you close the door for two seconds and I’ll be right back in here, okay, sweetie?

    CASSIDY: [inaudible]

    MEREDITH: Okay.

    DISPATCHER: Meredith.

    MEREDITH: Okay, yes sir.

    DISPATCHER: Okay. You got a cordless phone?

    MEREDITH: Yes.

    DISPATCHER: Alright.

    MEREDITH: Stay right there, sweetie. Okay.

    DISPATCHER: Alright, is…I want you to…is she laying on her back?

    MEREDITH: No, she’s laying on her stomach.

    DISPATCHER: She’s on her stomach? She’s face down?

    MEREDITH: Yes.

    DISPATCHER: Alright, can you…can you get her on her back?

    MEREDITH: [deep breath] okay…oh my God. Michelle? I don’t think so. She’s so heavy.

    DISPATCHER: Alright, see if you can get her on her back.

    MEREDITH: I just really think she’s dead.

    DISPATCHER: Pardon?

    MEREDITH: I really think she’s dead.

    DISPATCHER: Okay. Are you certain?

    MEREDITH: Hang on. Casssidy, sweetie, please go in your room. Okay, honey?

    MEREDITH: I um…I um…I’m pretty sure.

    DISPATCHER: You are?

    MEREDITH: I…I don’t know…I don’t know. I’m…

    DISPATCHER: Okay, we need to make sure.

    MEREDITH: Okay.

    DISPATCHER: Can you get her on her back for me?

    MEREDITH: She’s kind of…twisted in a way that I can’t do that.

    DISPATCHER: You can’t roll her over.

    MEREDITH: Not…not easily.

    DISPATCHER: You’re gonna have to try.

    MEREDITH: Hang on…let me…I’m trying to see if I can get her pulse.

    DISPATCHER: We gotta try to do CPR if we can get her on her back, Meredith.

    MEREDITH: No, she’s ice cold.

    DISPATCHER: She’s cold?

    MEREDITH: Yeah.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, alright.

    MEREDITH: And her body is stiff.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, then don’t try. If she’s cold then just…

    MEREDITH: Oh my God, I (inaudible)…

    DISPATCHER: …there’s probably nothing much you can do.

    MEREDITH: Should I not touch anything?

    DISPATCHER: Alright, try not to touch anything more than you did. Was anything out of place or unusual when you came in?

    MEREDITH: This place does not look like what it normally looks like.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, what’d it…

    MEREDITH: There’s blood in the bed.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, alright. Try not to touch anything else, okay?

    MEREDITH: Okay, I just moved a pillow.

    DISPATCHER: Alright. Just leave everything exactly where it is then.

    MEREDITH: Okay…okay.

    DISPATCHER: Do you see anything else?

    MEREDITH: Um…

    DISPATCHER: Do you see anything else that looks unusual?

    MEREDITH: No. Cassidy, was anybody here? The dog was freaking out when I got here. Was anybody here, sweetie?

    CASSIDY: [inaudible]

    DISPATCHER: Alright, Meredith…

    MEREDITH: Yes, sir.

    DISPATCHER: Alright, I’m gonna…I’m gonna get the sheriff’s department to pick up on the line with us.

    MEREDITH: Okay.

    DISPATCHER: ‘Cause they’re gonna need to talk to you about what you’re seeing. Okay?

    MEREDITH: Okay.

    DISPATCHER: Now, I’m gonna brief them on what’s happened, and you just stay on the line.

    MEREDITH: Okay.

    DISPATCHER: What’s your last name, Meredith?

    MEREDITH: Fisher.

    DISPATCHER: Fisher?

    MEREDITH: Her last name is Young.

    DISPATCHER: Are you her relative?

    MEREDITH: I’m her only sister.

    DISPATCHER: Okay. Alright, Meredith. Stay with me just a minute, okay?

    MEREDITH: Okay.

    CASSIDY: [inaudible]

    [series of clicks and tones]

    CASSIDY: [inaudible]

    MEREDITH: Okay.

    [ring-tone]

    CASSIDY: [inaudible] { some people believe they hear the words, “Daddy did it.”}

    MEREDITH: Okay.

    CASSIDY: [inaudible]

    [ring-tone]

    [ring-tone]

    DEPUTY: Sheriff’s office. What is your emergency?

    DISPATCHER: Hey, this is uh Brent.

    DEPUTY: Uh-huh?

    DISPATCHER: Look, I’ve got a lady named Meredith Fisher on the line from this address.

    DEPUTY: Okay.

    DISPATCHER: We’ve got E-medicine en route to Birchleaf.

    DEPUTY: Okay.

    DISPATCHER: And she…she’s in there with her sister. Um, she’s gonna tell you about what she’s seen, and it’s apparent it might be a Code 7 and there may be…there is evidence of trauma.

    DEPUTY: We got deputies already en route.

    DISPATCHER: Okay, but you need to talk to her. I’m gonna let her talk to you.

    DEPUTY: I will. Thanks.

    DISPATCHER: She’s on the line with you.

    DEPUTY: Okay.

    DISPATCHER: Meredith, go ahead.

    DEPUTY: Meredith?

    MEREDITH: I’m also here with [tape ends]

    Perhaps to my peril…

    Better known as “The Ring Story”

    As a blogger, I have, from time to time, received interesting information about the subjects that spark my interest. Usually, I am asked to keep whatever is shared confidential, as its release may be detrimental to the investigation or the anecdote may be self-evident as to its source. On the rare occasion, I am permitted to publish that with which I’ve been entrusted. Actually, rare is an understatement. It’s rare that I get information that hasn’t already been made public either through legitimate news reports, public statements by law enforcement officials, or word-of-mouth. Rarer still that I am able to publish.

    The very brief story I’m about to share may be considered nothing more than grapevine gossip. That’s the reader’s prerogative. However, I will say that I have more faith in it than that. You will have to judge its merit on the basis of your own standards.

    Without further ado, here is the story…

    At a party shortly before Michelle’s murder, Jason Young, ostensibly as a drunken party gag, swallowed the engagement ring of a female friend, later passing it and returning it to the betrothed –undoubtedly astonished and probably appalled –young woman the next day.

    Now, even though I was given permission to share this story, I held off at first, uncertain what to do with it. Frankly, it left me aghast. Amid other concerns, the disturbing nature of the incident and its provocative connotations, at first glance, seemed a bit too unsavory and not necessarily relevant. Upon further pondering and discussion with a friend whose opinion I value, I came to the realization that it is indeed useful in giving a glimpse of the personality of Jason Young — a window on his character, limited though the scope may be. It adds a whole new dimension to the affable, gregarious, late-blooming but charismatic and athletic mountain boy-cum-successful IT salesman previously presented by friends and relatives. Jason’s exploit — what some may consider a frat-boy prank — demonstrates a total disregard for the sensibilities of the young woman, as well as complete and utter contempt and disdain for the sanctity of marriage, including but not limited to his own marriage to Michelle. I can only imagine the reactions of those who witnessed or were subjected to the despicable stunt.

    So there you have it. And you can make of it what you will.

    Update: 2/5/2007, 4:52 pm, CT

    Some of the feedback on this story indicates that several readers doubt the veracity of it. For those who doubt, I can only say that I have also received independent verification of some of what I wrote. As well, I’ve been set straight on a couple of details. The incident was apparently Jason’s idea of a practical joke rather than a drunken party gag. It did not occur at a party, but among a small group of people at the Youngs’ home. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether that makes it worse or better.