June 15th 1984 felt like any other day for 15 year old Reesa Trexler and her 13 year old sister Jodie. Reesa had friends over that day and later went next door to her grandparent’s house on 714 North Shaver Street in Salisbury, North Carolina, while Jodie stayed home alone.
When Jodie realized that her older sister wasn’t around she peered next door only to see that her grandparent’s vehicles weren’t parked outside. Reesa must have gone with them, she concluded, and returned to her bedroom in her parents’ house.
She wasn’t aware of this, but her grandfather had gone grocery shopping while her grandmother was at a hair appointment and Reesa was alone in their house. It was normal for the girls to go back and forth between both properties unannounced.
An hour or so later Jodie heard an unforgettable scream. She ran to her bedroom window and looked across to her grandparents’ home to see her grandfather screaming and clenching his fists so hard that his knuckles had turned white. She ran next door, into the house and up the stairs and pushed open the bedroom door.
The room was completely covered in red.
Jodie looked down to see a heap covered in a blanket that was heavily saturated in blood. As she looked closer she could see skin and hair. It was Reesa.
The teenager had been brutally murdered while her grandparents were out running errands and had suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest, neck and face. So severe were her injuries that her spinal cord had actually been severed. Her attacker had stabbed with such force that the murder weapon had actually snapped off and remained protruding from her shoulder. In total there was 18 stab wounds to the girl’s upper body, the volume of injuries painted a picture of an attacker stabbing away at the teen in a fit of rage. The young girl had also been sexually assaulted and was found naked. Semen was collected from the crime scene and also later again from the victim’s body during the autopsy. Although DNA testing was in its infancy at the time all findings were carefully collected and preserved- a move that would later become key to solving the case. There was no indication that someone had forced their way into the property, nor had anything of value been taken from the home. Reesa was still wearing her jewelry.
What was described as a single African American hair was found on the body and 5 eyewitness reported seeing a black male running in the area around the time of the crime, however nothing came of the sightings.
With no suspect, suspicions turned to the family and thirteen year old Jodie was soon under suspicion of having some kind of involvement in her sister’s murder. She was interrogated by police without the presence of her parents and asked multiple times if she had killed Reesa. For years she was the target of local gossip and often on the end of an accusing finger. Eventually, in an attempt to clear her name, she appeared on the Dr. Phil show in 2018 where she took and passed a polygraph test. Her appearance on the show renewed interest in the case and the 35 year old DNA samples collected from the crime scene were sent off to a lab and a suspect was soon narrowed down with the aid of genetic genealogy databases.
A suspect was identified and although police did not officially release his name media outlets soon began reporting that warrants obtained by the local authorities revealed that the body of a Mr. Curtis Edward Blair had been exhumed after a petition and his DNA had been tested against that found on the victim. Blair died from a heart attack in California in 2004. At the time of the murder he worked locally at Frito-Lay, a potato chip factory, and had a criminal record including assault with a deadly weapon. He would have been in his 40’s at the time of the murder.
Reesa’s family had given up hope that the case would be solved and were shocked when they received news that a suspect had finally been identified.
"I just lived with the fact that it was not going to be solved” Reesa’s mother told reporters. “Maybe now I can sleep.”
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