The husband of a pregnant woman who was found beaten to death three years ago has been arrested and charged with her death, police said today.
Jason Young, 35, was picked up Monday and charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 2006 death of his 29-year-old wife, Michelle Young. He is being held without bond by the Wake County Sheriff's Office and is due in court today.
Jason Young, who long proclaimed his innocence, was long considered a suspect in the case by both police and Michelle Young's family. After her mother and sister filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him, the lead investigator on the case testified in civil court that detectives believed he killed his wife in front of their young daughter Cassidy.
Michelle Young's family was awarded $15.6 million in damages in March.
Neither Michelle Young's mother, Linda Fisher, or Jason Young's attorney, Roger Smith Jr., could be immediately reached for comment.
"The pretty obvious point was, this is not the way to end a marriage," Jack Michaels, Fisher's attorney in Raleigh, told ABCNews.com in March after the civil court ruling. "There are divorce courts for that."
Officials announced in November, on the third anniversary of the murder, that they were taking their time with the case to make sure than an arrest would stick.
"We realize it's been three years and we've been working hard, but we try not to impose artificial deadlines on ourselves," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said in November in an interview with ABC's Raleigh-Durham affiliate WTVD-TV.
Michelle Young's family and friends had said after the civil ruling that even though they never expected to collect anything from Jason Young, they were glad he was found responsible.
"The money doesn't mean anything," Michelle Young's best friend Jennifer Powers told ABCNews.com. "It's all about justice for Michelle."
Michelle Young's sister, Meredith Fisher, was awarded primary custody of the couple's nearly 5-year-old daughter, with visitation rights for Jason Young on weekends, holidays and other occasions.
Neither Jason Young nor his attorney appeared in court for the wrongful-death ruling. He was deemed responsible for his wife's death in civil court by default last year when he failed to respond to the suit.
"The focus there is on escaping criminal testimony," Michaels said of Jason Young's absence.
Michelle Young, described by friends and family as the quintessential American girl, was found beaten to death on the floor of her bedroom in her home outside Raleigh on Nov. 3, 2006. Cassidy, then 2, was found in bed near her mother's body with clean feet despite child-size bloody footprints found elsewhere in the house. Police believe Cassidy may have been drugged.
Michelle Young was five months pregnant with the couple's second child, a son who would have been named Rylan.
Paul Michaels, Linda Fisher's other lawyer, said in December 2008 they hoped the civil court ruling would spur the criminal probe of the case.
"Something had to be done," Michaels told ABCNews.com. "The main reason this was done was Linda Fisher believed Jason killed Michelle."
Included as evidence in Fisher's lawsuit was an affidavit from Wake County Sheriff's Office investigator R.C. Spivey III, who also testified in court that Michelle Young's beating was among the worst he'd ever seen.
Spivey wrote in the affidavit: "I am familiar with other items of fact developed during this investigation that have not been placed in the public record to support a search warrant and, in my opinion, this evidence ... indicates that Jason Young was the perpetrator."
Search warrants and affidavits in the case detail damning circumstantial evidence against Jason Young, including alleged extramarital affairs and a bottle of extra-strength adult Tylenol police believe was given to Cassidy to make her drowsy during her mother's murder.
Police also noticed an adult shoe print that they said was from a size 12 Hush Puppies Orbital shoe, which was left in the bloodstains. Police later found through store records that Jason Young had purchased a pair of size 12 Hush Puppies Orbital shoes more than a year before his wife's death, according to investigators' reports.
Records seized from Jason Young's computer turned up search queries on "anatomy of a knockout," "head trauma knockout," "divorce" and "gay bars in New York City," according to police affidavits.
There were also searches for "right posterior parietal occipital region" -- the occipital region is in the back of the head -- and "ischemia," the decrease in the blood supply to parts of the body caused by constriction or obstruction of blood vessels, according to the affidavit.
According to police affidavits dated Feb. 13, 2008 and Nov. 6, 2008, Jason Young checked into a Hampton Inn in Virginia the night before his wife's body was found and had been having an affair. He was seen on hotel security cameras the night before his wife's body was discovered wearing two different sets of clothing within a few hours, authorities said.
Phone records show about 980 cell phone calls and text messages were sent between Jason Young and his alleged mistress between Oct. 4 and Nov. 3, 2006.
On Oct. 28, 2006, days before the murder, Jason Young e-mailed the woman he'd been seeing: "i don't know how all this happened, but i know how it will end up … two broken hearts … but, i don't care. i know there is pain in my future, but you are so worth it, even if it's only for a 'blink' in time."