Nov. 4, 2009 -- Police said they expect to make an arrest soon in the bludgeoning death of Michelle Young, the pregnant North Carolina mother who was killed three years ago in front of her young daughter Cassidy. But they wouldn't say whether the person they are eyeing was her husband.
On Tuesday, the third anniversary of Young's murder, Wake County law enforcement officials told ABC News affiliate WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., that they have not given up on the case, but have moved slowly to make sure that when they do make an arrest, it sticks.
"We've got one shot and we want to make sure when we go in with that shot, we're ready," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison told WTVD-TV.
"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 an interview with WTVD-TV.
Michelle Young's mother, sister and other relatives have said they suspected her husband, Jason Young, from the start. In March, they were awarded $15.6 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against him, notching a victory in their quest to hold him responsible for her death.
Though Jason Young has never been named a suspect by police, the lead investigator in the case testified during the civil court trial that detectives believe he killed her. The civil suit was filed by Michelle Young's mother, Linda Fisher.
"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."
Though the family had asked for $36 million, they were awarded $3.9 million in compensatory damages and $11.7 in punitive damages.
"We're probably never going to collect any of this," Michaels said. But if they do, "virtually every dime would go to Cassidy," he said, and the rest to pay for Michelle Young's funeral expenses.
Police in Michelle Young Murder Close to Arrest
"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 last month, 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.
According to WTVD, Young has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. Messages left today with his attorney, Roger Smith Jr. of Raleigh, were not returned and attempts to reach Jason Young or his family were unsuccessful.
'Something Had to Be Done'
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."
Murdered Woman's Husband's Web Searches Included 'Anatomy of a Knockout,' Cops Say
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 he had allegedly 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.