UPDATE – Info scarce as police ask for help solving murder

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 12, 2014
Karen Pearce. Photo obtained via Facebook.

Karen Pearce. Photo obtained via Facebook.

UPDATE: Police have made an arrest in this case. Click here for more details. 

The Decatur Police Department has made a public appeal for help in solving a murder that occurred in the city’s downtown business district on Dec. 6, but the public doesn’t have much information about the case.

There are no descriptions of potential suspects or persons of interest, and few details about the crime itself.

Police Sgt. Jennifer Ross, DPD’s spokesperson, declined a phone interview, and WSB-TV reports that detectives declined their on-camera interview requests as well.

One of the more pressing questions surrounding the murder of Karen Pearce is whether she was targeted by someone or if she was the victim of a robbery. Police have declined to shed any light on the matter. WSB-TV reported that, “Police believe the hairstylist had also been robbed.” Ross disputed this via email.

“They did not get that from anyone at the police department,” Ross said. “We are not releasing any further information at this time.”

Police incident reports provide very little detail. Georgia’s Open Records law gives lots of wiggle room when it comes withholding certain information regarding a case that’s under investigation.

Pearce, who worked as a stylist at True Salon in Marietta and lived in Smyrna, was having dinner with friends at Leon’s in downtown Decatur before her murder. She left earlier than her friends to get her car out of a parking deck near One Decatur Town Center. A witnesses reported hearing a gunshot. According to Decatur Police, a witness “exiting a parking area,” discovered her body nearby. An account set up to solicit donations for a reward says the body was discovered “on a walkway” behind 150 East Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The Decatur incident report says officers were dispatched to the corner of East Ponce de Leon and Church Street in downtown Decatur at 10:55 pm.

“Officers located an adult female behind 150 East Ponce de Leon Avenue,” the report says. “The female was unresponsive and appeared deceased at the time of the officer’s arrival.”

Decatur Police called the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for assistance, according to a GBI report.

The GBI narrative says, “On Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014 at approximately 12:20 am the Decatur Police Department requested assistance with processing a crime scene. The body of an unidentified white female was discovered near an office building in downtown Decatur.”

Police haven’t said whether any of Pearce’s possessions were missing when her body was discovered.

A patron of Leon’s said she went to the restaurant at around 11:30 pm. She said that, “During dinner, a DPD officer came into Leon’s and went around questioning most of the staff and customers. What he asked us at first was if we had seen a thin, white female in an orange skirt.”

Another unanswered question is whether there was any security footage of the incident or a potential suspect. A property manager for the building confirmed on Friday that the parking deck for One Decatur Town Center does not have security cameras. It’s unknown if there were any other security cameras in the area. The property manager referred all other questions to Decatur Police.

As noted earlier, Decatur Police aren’t answering any additional questions at this time.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Decatur Police Department at 404/373-6551 or Crimestoppers at 404/577-TIPS or online at http://www. crimestoppersatlanta.org/index.

There’s also a reward fund for information leading to an arrest of a suspect. As of noon Friday, Dec. 12, organizers had raised more than $5,000.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Bill Jones

    This is really disappointing and shocking really. Someone is murdered in cold blood a half block from the square and the police have nothing at all to go on? Not a lead or description or motive. How can I expect to be safe in downtown Decatur?

  • Cathy

    I understand that the police have to work the investigation without compromising it, but I still feel I am owed more as a resident of the City of Decatur. They must have some clue if it was a robbery gone wrong, and that should be shared so that people can take the necessary precautions.

    • Steve

      You should be taking precautions regardless.

  • Bill Jones

    At the very least, the police should be able to say whether there were items missing. The family of Ms. Pearce said Sunday it was a robbery gone wrong. The family must have gotten this information from the police. Other reports say it was a robbery.
    I understand that the police don’t want people to jump to conclusions, but they are already doing that, especially when there are the robbery reports and her family and friends have said she doesn’t have any enemies. If they want the public’s help, they should explain what the status of their investigation is and what they need from the public. Do they just want people to put money in a reward fund?

  • arturo

    Could be a ploy. Say publicly you have nothing to goad the perp into talking. Someone will talk and someone will want the reward.

  • Cathy

    I’m sure the GBI has best practices and since they are involved, maybe the Decatur police have to defer to them? Still, for the life of me, I don’t understand why the people of Decatur are not up in arms about this. I’m picking up on very little chatter around the community.

    • Bill Jones

      I’m up in arms about it. It’s awful. I think people are deferring to the police at this point, but that will change if they make no progress. I understand that sometimes there are no witnesses, but security cameras are how crimes get solved these days. Your camera is your eyewitness when there are no others around. If there is no camera, then I guess people will have to live in fear knowing there is a murderer on the streets who could kill again.

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