Family honors loved one, fights for change 1 year after homicide

by: Alexa Ashwell Updated:


ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - Soft music played as loved ones released balloons at a Rowan County cemetery in memory of Shirley Pierce.

Pierce was a mother, grandmother and sister who police said was stabbed to death in her Kannapolis home one year ago, on July 23, 2013.

“She smiled all of the time,” said Tracy Brown, Pierce’s daughter. “I miss her calling me every morning on her way to work.”

For the past year, the family has reflected upon Shirley’s work and how her troubles began there.

Channel 9 reported in July 2013 when Marlene Johnson was arrested for Shirley’s murder.

Johnson was the estranged wife of Shirley’s co-worker and suspected the two were having an affair.

Following her arrest, Channel 9 found documents that showed Pierce had a series of restraining orders against Johnson over the years and Johnson had been convicted of assaulting Pierce.

During the memorial service Wednesday a dear friend and woman who worked with Pierce said she feared for her life.

She plans to go to local lawmakers and push for stricter enforcement and penalties on restraining orders.

“We will present all of our notes and documents to lawmakers,” said Elizabeth Roscoe, who worked with Pierce. “We need to see what we can do. Do we need a new law? Do we need to better enforce current ones? Something needs to change.”

A trial date has not yet been set for Marlene Johnson.