Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will investigate one of North Carolina’s most notorious and gruesome murders in an all-new, two-hour segment.
Interested in learning more about the case before tonight’s episode? Read on.
1. Janet Abaroa Died in 2005
In April 2005, Raven Abaroa claimed he came home to a traumatic sight: his 25-year-old pregnant wife stabbed to death on the upstairs floor of their home. Their child, 6-month-old Kaiden, slept quietly in another room.
Abaroa proceeded by calling a 911 dispatcher and telling them, “She’s been shot or something. There’s blood everywhere.” Raven claimed that his wife’s death was the result of a home invasion, however, no signs of forced entry were found.
When Durham police arrived at the scene, according to the Herald Sun, they learned that Janet was in a kneeling position when she was killed. Her autopsy revealed a slash on the right finger and stab wounds in her chest.
Not long after his wife’s death, Abaroa moved to Salt Lake City, where he began dating a woman named Vanessa Pond. They tied the knot in September 2008.
2. Contact Lenses Implicated Raven in His Wife’s Death
Not long after Detective Charles Sole was assigned to the case, he began sifting through crime scene photos, which is when he came across something strange: an open contact case on the counter. Since the contacts case was opened, Sole deduced Janet was likely wearing them, which wasn’t consistent with Raven’s story that she was going to bed the night she was killed.
In July 2010, authorities exhumed Janet’s body to investigate whether or not she was wearing contacts at the time of her burial. After a long investigation into the matter, police learned Janet was, in fact, wearing contacts.
With this knowledge, Sole was able to identify a huge flaw in Raven Abaroa’s story.
3. Raven Was Charged with His Wife’s Death in 2010
Within months of being married, Pond says Abaroa became physical with her. She tells ABC News that at one point, “He grabbed me from the door and threw me up against the wall, and then I fell… Later, he tried to convince me that I had tripped.”
She began to believe he could be responsible for his deceased wife’s death. In Spring 2009, the couple divorced and their marriage was annulled.
Around that time, Sole was assigned to the Janet Abaroa case. On February 1, 2010, Raven Abaroa was arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of Janet. In 2014, Abaroa entered an Alford plea for voluntary manslaughter. With an Alford Plea, Abaroa maintained his innocence but admitted that the state had sufficient evidence to convict him.
ABC reports that he was sentenced to between 95 and 123 months in jail, but he earned credit for the four years he already spent in jail.
4. He Was Released from Prison Christmas Day 2017
Abroa, who is 39 today, was released from prison on Christmas Day 2017.
Today, he lives in Utah. But still, the question remains: is Raven guilty of Janet’s murder?
Speaking to ABC News’ 20/20, detective Charles Sole says of Raven Abaroa, “Raven never kept the lies straight… His statements to law enforcement, initially, they were contradictory.”
The inconsistencies began adding up the more Sole investigated the case. Through CCTV footage, he learned that Abaroa was not wearing the same sweatshirt that he claimed he was wearing when he left the soccer game he reportedly attended the night of his wife’s death. The Herald Sun goes on to write, “… Abaroa’s story that he hugged his wife when he found her dead on the floor did not match the evidence because he had very little blood on his shirt.”
5. He Was Charged with Embezzlement Four Months Prior to Janet’s Death
Four months prior to Janet’s death, Hillsborough police charged Raven Abaroa with embezzling more than $9,000 from his job at the sporting goods company Eurosport. Both Janet and Raven worked at the store at the time, and both later left the job.
In August 2005, Abaroa pleaded guilty to five counts of embezzlement. He was placed on supervised probation for two years.