Murder Mystery: What Happened to Janet Abaroa?

Friends and family of brutally stabbed young mother search for clues in murder.

Sept. 2, 2009— -- A murder mystery played out in the suburbs of Durham, N.C., in April 2005, when Janet Abaroa, a beautiful, 26-year-old northern Virginian, was stabbed to death in her own home.

Four years later, despite the lack of arrests, Janet's family and police continue to search for clues.

The woman's family members believes they know what happened to her that night, and all their suspicions point toward her former husband, Raven Abaroa. Those suspicions were bolstered recently when Raven and his second wife separated and she went public with her fear that he might somehow have been involved in his first wife's death.

Raven Abaroa has said he discovered his dead wife's body in the bedroom of their Durham home after he returned from playing soccer that evening. Nothing else in the house was disturbed, authorities say. The couple's 6-month-old son, Kaiden, was left unharmed in another room.

Love Story Starts at College

Janet Christiansen, the seventh of 10 siblings, came from a solid Mormon family. At Southern Virginia University, in Buena Vista, where she played soccer, she met Raven Abaroa in 1998, a fellow soccer player who instantly swept her off her feet.

"She was beautiful, attractive. ... I just felt so much comfort when I was with her," Abaroa said in an interview with the TV show "NC Wanted" in 2007. "And we started this journey of getting to know each other and it was an amazing journey."

Janet Abaroa's sister, Erika Bakey, recalled how her sister was enamored of Raven. Both were 19 and enthusiastic soccer players. "She always talked about if they had any kids, they were going to be fantastic soccer players because both of them were," Bakey said.

In August 2000, after two years together, Janet and Raven married at the Mormon temple in Washington, D.C. Settling in south eastern Virginia, her friends and family thought that life for the newlywed couple was perfect.

CLICK HERE to see photos of the couple through the years.

However, soon after, a job opportunity moved the couple to Durham, where they both took positions at a major sports apparel company. Janet's sisters told ABC News that at the time, the couple was beginning to have some marital problems.

Marital Problems Plague Newlyweds

"He came to her one day because he wanted to be out of the marriage," said Sonja Flood, Janet's sister, "and explained to her that he had been cheating on her with several different people. And very soon after that, she found out that she was pregnant."

It should have been the happiest time of Janet and Raven's lives, but instead Janet confided in her family that she felt helpless. Her older sister, Dena Kendall, said that Janet "didn't want to raise the baby as a single mother."

But after Abaroa received some advice from close friends to "grow up," the young couple was able to work things out, and welcomed son Kaiden into the world on Oct. 17, 2004.

"He promised, swore up and down, that he would no longer cheat on her, that she was the only one for him. He would make it work," Flood said.

With the birth of their beloved baby boy, the Abaroas' marriage seemed to be on the mend, until they suffered yet another blow: Abaroa was caught stealing from the sports apparel company where they both worked in December 2004. Mortified, Janet resigned from her job, but did not give up on her husband. He would eventually plead guilty to five charges of embezzlement, but would avoid serving any jail time.

911 Call: 'My Wife Is Dead'

On April 26, 2005, Janet was doing the laundry and Abaroa was working in the house before he left to play soccer with friends, according to his account of that night. He said he returned home at around 10:45 p.m. to a horrifying discovery: His wife had been killed. Several stab wounds mark her chest and her neck.

In a 911 call, Abaroa told the operator, "My wife is dead ... She's been shot or something -- there's blood everywhere," he said. "She's not breathing."

Though Abaroa said Janet had been shot, Durham Police quickly realized that she had been stabbed. The weapon they were looking for was a knife. Despite years of looking for clues, Durham Police say it is an open investigation.

Abaroa Starts New Life Out West

Shortly after his wife's death, Abaroa moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, with their son. There he eventually met Vanessa Pond, a beautiful single mother whose daughter was in the same day care program as Kaiden.

Vanessa Pond told ABC News about her first impressions of Raven Abaroa. "He seemed very up front ... very honest and genuine. And I found that he was a single father. And I really, really admired that."

Pond also said that as they were starting to date, Abaroa mentioned to her that his wife had died and she felt "so sorry for him ... and Kaiden," and she decided to take them into her home.

Sisters Reach Out to New Wife: 'We Were Fearful for Her'

But Pond began researching Janet's murder on the Internet. She told ABC News that she wasn't convinced that Abaroa was innocent. "So I went over and I spoke with him, asked him the questions that I had. And he removed any and every doubt from my mind," she said.

In the summer of 2008, they had a beautiful wedding in the backyard of Pond's parents' home.

When Janet's sisters learned that Abaroa had remarried, they felt the duty to reach out to his new wife. Janet's sister Dena Kendall told ABC News, "We just wanted her to make sure she was aware of the things that had been in the news about him. That she would know what she was getting into. And that we were fearful for her."

Pond says she became frightened as she began to see her husband behave in ways she couldn't understand. "Within moments ... he could switch. He could say the most horrible things," Pond said.

Now, Vanessa Pond and Raven have separated because of what she terms his "abusive behavior," and she has gone public with her fears that he might somehow have been involved in the death of his first wife, a suspicion shared by some of Janet's relatives and friends.

Raven Abaroa, now 29, has strongly denied any responsibility for Janet Abaroa's death, and has not been charged with the crime. We tried speaking to Abaroa, who initially agreed to an interview but then changed his mind. So ABC News went to Salt Lake City to ask him again, but he was not available. Instead, his mother and stepfather answered the door and told us they've advised him against making any statements on the case and claiming that Janet's sisters are out to get him. Raven also denies Vanessa's charges of abuse.

The North Carolina Durham Police Department told ABC News the investigation is still active, and that investigators continue to look for clues in this unsolved case.

Sgt. Sheldon Perkins, who is investigating the case, said, "We are looking for anybody with any information on this case to call us, no matter how insignificant they think it might be ... we really would love to talk to them."

If you have information about what happened to Janet Abaroa, please contact the Durham Police Department at (919) 560-4601, and visit Janet's family's website.