With flags, ribbons and bows, Carol Johnson's Pine Valley home was full of festive Old Glory decor in the summer of 2011.
"She was found by her boyfriend, after he came home from work, sometime between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., the morning of July 4," said Detective Robert Pearce with the Wilmington Police Department.
A day normally filled with celebration and fun was also the day of Johnson's death.
"When he (Christopher Munn) found her, she had been stabbed multiple times," Pearce said.
Munn, Johnson's fiance, told police he returned home from work around 3 a.m. on July 4 and found her body. Munn made the call to 911 and told the dispatch operator that Johnson's body was cold.
He said she was going to stay up until midnight because she always rang her grandmother's bell at 12:01 for the Fourth of July.
Neighbors said Johnson was a kind woman who lived alone on Pine Valley Drive for about 15 years. They said she was engaged to her boyfriend of three years, who had recently moved in.
Johnson had been stabbed nine times in the chest, back, jaw and neck, and her body was left lying on her kitchen floor with a bloodied bathrobe by her feet. An autopsy revealed defensive stab wounds on her arms and hands.
"For the last seven years we had some of our best investigators on the department on the case," Pearce said. "They have been reviewing the case and going over the case and they have run into so many roadblocks."
Roadblocks in what was once a cold case.
"Even as time goes by and the years go by, we never quit looking into the death of Mrs. Johnson," Pearce said.
The case is now active with a fresh set of eyes on the thick case file. Pearce, a newly promoted detective, hopes to discover what caused the death of this Wilmington woman.
"I would like to re-interview some of the people that were interviewed previously during the initial investigation and follow up investigation because I have my own questions I need answers for," Pearce said.
Those answers are not easy to find.
"A lot of the witnesses have disappeared," Pearce said. "They have moved. They may be deceased. Some of the officers have retired and moved on. It brings in a whole new set of challenges."
For now, there are no suspects, no person of interest, but Pearce wants the public to know that even the most minor piece of information in this case could be that major break.
"Ultimately, the goal is justice for Carol," Pearce said.
Johnson's case is one of 11 unsolved homicides in the past 10 years in Wilmington.
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