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Suspect charged in gruesome NoDa murder released on bond

One of four people charged in connection with the brutal killing of a woman who was stabbed over 130 times and stuffed in a mattress was released from jail on bond.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A man who was charged in connection with the brutal murder of a Charlotte woman who was stabbed over 130 times and found stuffed in a mattress was released from jail over the weekend on bond, jail records show. 

James Robert Salerno was given a $250,000 bond in January in connection with the 2020 killing of Mary Collins. Mecklenburg County jail records show that Salerno was released on June 3 on bond. His charges include murder, kidnapping and DWI. 

According to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office inmate docket, Salerno does not have electronic monitoring. 

The victim's mother, Kasei Canfora, spoke to WCNC Charlotte about the gut-wrenching news she learned after attending a community violence rally with other inflected mothers who have suffered from gun violence.

"It's creating a lot of conflicting feelings within me," Canfora said. "It's very painful and I have no control over the entire process which is the hardest part. All of it feels like what they've done to my daughter, it just doesn't matter to them."

She said she's baffled that someone charged with murder is out walking around the streets of Charlotte. She believes the lenient punishment for such a heinous crime sets a negative precedent for others who commit the same crimes. 

"Why does he get to walk free and have a life when he took Mary's for no reason? I just don't want anyone else to have to go through this torment," Canfora told WCNC Charlotte's Colin Mayfield.

RELATED: 'They tortured her and let her bleed to death': NoDa woman stabbed 133 times, stuffed in mattress

WCNC Charlotte has reached out to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and court officials for more information about Salerno's release. 

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Salerno is one of four people charged with killing Collins at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in NoDa. Salerno and the others are accused of luring Collins to an apartment under the guise of spending time with friends. Her body was found a week later. Investigators said she was tortured and stabbed 133 times. 

Kelly Lavery, Lavi Pham and Salerno were charged with killing Collins. A fourth suspect is accused of helping clean up the crime scene. Search warrants alleged that Cascade dish detergent and pumpkin spice shower gel were used to mask the smell of Collins' body.

Lavery pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for her role in the killing and was sentenced to 32 years in prison. Pham and Salerno pleaded not guilty. During Lavery's plea hearing, new details of the killing emerged, with investigators saying Collins had a leash around her neck in a bathtub. 

"He gets out on bond, he's free to go around the city of Charlotte," Mia Alderman, Collins' grandmother, said in January. "I think that this should shake the city of Charlotte, I really do." 

Alderman also claimed that Salerno's own attorney said Collins' killing was the worst crime Charlotte's ever seen. She also said Salerno's parents were eager to bond him out, claiming there was "no sense of compassion" for him or from any of the suspects' families. 

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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