DATE: Sunday, July 27, 1997 TAG: 9707270104 SECTION: LOCAL PAGE: B1 EDITION: NORTH CAROLINA SOURCE: BY LANE DeGREGORY, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: NAGS HEAD LENGTH: 110 lines
The day before Hurricane Emily forced officials to evacuate the Outer Banks in August 1993, a hotel cleaning crew found the body of a New Jersey woman slumped beside a sand dune.
Janet Siclari had spent the evening dancing and drinking. She had returned to her oceanfront room about 2:30 a.m. and told her brother she was going out for a smoke. Within the next hour, a coroner estimated, someone slashed her throat.
Police spent almost four years trying to track down the killer. They interviewed more than 200 people. The victim's brother offered a $20,000 reward for information about the murder.
But with potential witnesses evacuated and without a murder weapon or motive, police were stumped.
Now, Nags Head Police Chief Charles Cameron says he finally has a suspect - an Outer Banks man imprisoned in North Carolina for other crimes.
``During the past three months, new information has been developed in the Janet Siclari homicide,'' Cameron said Saturday. ``As a result of this information, the investigation has identified, and is now focused on, a specific suspect.''
Cameron, who took over the force two years ago, would not speculate on how soon the suspect might be charged. He refused to cite the source or the new information that helped detectives identify the suspect. And he declined to say whether police now have a murder weapon, motive or any other new evidence.
``Numerous individuals have been interviewed during the past three months. Some of these were re-interviews'' of people police talked to four years ago, Cameron said. Others involved people who had not been contacted before.
``We have not been outside the state,'' Cameron said, stressing that the State Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney's office are helping his officers. ``But we intend to follow the leads wherever they may take us.
``I'm satisfied that significant progress is being made in the investigation.''
Cameron said he also is sure that the suspect in the Siclari murder was not in Dare County recently - and is in no way connected to this month's murder of Kill Devil Hills resident Denise F. Johnson.
An athletic, slender woman who worked as medical technician, Janet Siclari, 35, visited the Outer Banks with her brother and two female friends for a week's vacation in 1993.
Less than nine hours before she was supposed to return to her North Arlington, N.J., home, a hotel cleaning crew found her bloody body lying near the ocean behind the Carolinian Hotel, where she had been staying. It was 6:50 a.m., Aug. 28.
Siclari was wearing only a cropped blue tank top. She was curled in a fetal position on her left side. She clutched her white denim shorts - with the underpants folded inside - against her ear.
An autopsy showed that someone used a ``small- to medium-sized knife'' to stab and slash her throat at least half a dozen times. Small knife wounds also were on her palms and fingers. And Siclari's blood alcohol content was 0.08 - North Carolina's minimum legal limit for intoxication - at the time of her death.
Although a coroner is certain that Siclari had sex within the last 24 hours of her life, the autopsy showed there was ``no evidence of injury about the genital area'' to suggest she had been raped.
``Right now, we believe the person who had sex with her was involved in the killing,'' Nags Head Detective Tom Gilliam said during a 1994 interview.
During the first year of the investigation, police tested blood samples from seven suspects, including Siclari's brother and the hotel bartender. But none matched the DNA information gleaned from Siclari's autopsy.
On Saturday, the police chief refused to comment on whether the current suspect might have been the person who had sex with Siclari.
Friends who had been at the beach with Siclari said she had never married and had no children. She wasn't seriously dating anyone, they said. And they couldn't figure out why anyone would have wanted to kill her.
On the night she was murdered, Siclari danced at Port O'Call Restaurant & Gaslight Saloon until last call - about 2 a.m. She returned to her room at the Carolinian - which she shared with her brother - about a half-hour later. She told her brother that she was going outside to smoke a cigarette.
``I was asleep. But I woke up briefly when I heard the key in the door,'' Siclari's brother, Robert, said during a 1994 interview. ``Janet took off her shoes, left her purse on the dresser and lit a cigarette.
``Her last words to me were something like: `It's only me. I'm just going outside to smoke a cigarette.' I said: `OK, Janet,' and went back to sleep.
``When I got up the next morning and saw her bed hadn't been slept in, I knew something was wrong.''
Robert Siclari, who was about two years older than his sister, owns an environmental consulting firm in Alexandria, Va. About a year after his sister's murder, he put up most of the money for a $20,000 reward that would be paid to the person who helped solve the crime. Siclari said he got several calls - but none that helped police.
There have been six murders in Nags Head since the town was incorporated in 1962. Siclari's slaying was the most recent. Nags Head police officer Cliff Midgett said three years ago that hers was the most difficult case his force has worked. ILLUSTRATION: Graphic
HOW TO HELP
Police ask anyone with information about the murder of Janet
Siclari on Aug. 28, 1993, to call the Nags Head Police Department at
(919) 441-6386. All information will remain confidential.
THE 1993 MURDER
Janet Siclari, right, of New Jersey was on vacation when she left
her hotel room for a late-night smoke. The next day a cleaning crew
found her body. Her throat had been slit.
Nearly four years after the killing, the case remains unsolved,
but police now have a suspect. The man, from the Outer Banks, is
already in prison for other crimes. Police have declined to discuss
details. KEYWORDS: MURDER STABBING ARREST
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