Two years after her death, no trial date in LeeAnn Fletcher case

By on July 28, 2022

On July 25, 2020, three days after LeeAnn Fletcher was found unresponsive in her Kitty Hawk home after suffering blunt force trauma to the head, the 38-year-old mother of two died at Norfolk General Hospital.

Two years later, there is no trial date set for the defendant, John (Jay) Tolson, who was arrested for her murder on October 26, 2020, by the police department in Bangor Maine.

Along the way, there have been several starts and stops in setting a date to bring the case to trial. When asked for an update on the case this week, First District Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden said: “Waiting to hear availability of defendant’s ‘expert’ and get a copy of her report. Once we get that information, Judge Tillett will select a trial date.” He is referring to Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett.

That message seems similar to an update Cruden provided to the Voice in early May when he explained that there was no trial date at that time because Tolson’s attorney was “trying to coordinate with an expert witness to make sure [the witness is] available.” Tolson is being represented in the case by public defender Christan Routten.

For Trisha Cahoon, LeeAnn Fletcher’s first cousin and close friend, the lack of apparent progress toward a trial has been a source of mounting frustration.

“It’s been two years and they are just leaving us hanging and saying they are ‘waiting for the judge’ to give them a date. Everyone is passing it off to another at whose responsibility it is to get this set. I have no faith whatsoever in our system anymore,” she told the Voice. “She’s been dead two years and still no justice.”

The Voice reached out to the office of Judge Tillett for comment, but received no response. Attorney Routten’s office said she has been in court and is unable to respond at this point.

The arrest of Tolson in late October 2020 followed an impassioned and persistent public-facing social media campaign by friends and family — spearheaded by Trisha Cahoon — to keep constant pressure on law enforcement to make an arrest of Tolson (who they identified as the suspect) and to prevent the case from slipping out of public view.

To that end, one year ago, marking the first anniversary of LeeAnn Fletcher’s death, a banner — bearing the now familiar “Justice for LeeAnn” hashtag — was flown over the Outer Banks.





  • Mike Raphone

    It’s amazing how afraid of this whole thing Dare County seems to be. That being said, it was right at 2 years when Pasquotank County got a conviction for the Summer Waaga murder. And that defendant pleaded guilty.

    Thursday, Jul 28 @ 1:40 pm
  • Beach Ball

    This is ridiculous! How about a Federal charge of flight to avoid prosecution! There’s a US Federal Judge in Raleigh who wouldn’t put up with this!!!

    Thursday, Jul 28 @ 2:09 pm
  • Janet Robbins

    Feel so sad for the relatives of Mrs. Fletcher… Not knowing who took her life… Someone must know …

    Thursday, Jul 28 @ 6:11 pm
  • Very sad for lack of justice

    Unfortunately, two years, in this county is the norm, if not more!!
    The District attorneys really flubbed this case up. Lots of information about this crime has been made public, but, in my humble opinion, trying to blame the victim IN A PUBLIC FORUM, for anything, let alone her family’s wrongdoings years ago, takes me back to “DATE RAPE” stories where a defense could be ” she asked for it. ”
    Trisha is trying to keep this case alive, stop attacking her for trying very hard to love and lose and seek justice for her loved one.
    It is “our, the taxpayers/voters ” fault to not ask WHY?? and yet keep checking those peoples names on a ballot.
    This important case in Dare county should not have shared the same limelight as the gentleman in Elizabeth city, this case occured first but because we share DAs and judges, add in the peaceful rioting and the timing and they HAD to pay attention!! Anyone who has had a loss like this deserves to be the #1 case, to be dealt with.
    Give them (family and accused) justice and/or the right for a fast and speedy trial…Not my rule/ request, 2+ years seems to be speedy in this county. Why? I implore every person to just fathom losing a daughter, son, niece, etc. to ask why? And how could you deal with no movement for years, it is torture for anyone. (I do speak from personal experience of this, btw).

    Friday, Jul 29 @ 6:41 am
  • Jay

    “trying to coordinate with an expert witness to make sure [the witness is] available.” Sounds like the delays will go on for ever. Why is the judge allowing this to drag on? Are the old school Outer Banks influences delaying the trail? It might be time to pick a new judge or move the trail out of Dare County. Just think if Tolson is innocent we might have a killer still on the loose!

    Friday, Jul 29 @ 8:59 am
  • Scott

    Janet Robbins, read the article in it’s entirety. You will see there is a suspect in custody for this.

    Friday, Jul 29 @ 1:18 pm
  • Jones

    Don’t fret this is a case that all of obx knows he did it. An he sits where he needs to be we the people do not need to hear his side.. an whom ever had any dealings with him after the fact surely needs to be punshied as well

    Sunday, Jul 31 @ 9:12 am
  • Jay

    Scott I must be missing it. I don’t see anywhere in the article where the defendant is in custody.

    Judge Tillet needs to set a date a few months out and get it moving.

    Sunday, Jul 31 @ 2:02 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    The defendant has been in custody since his arrest in late 2020.

    Sunday, Jul 31 @ 3:15 pm
Join the discussion