Friend says murder victim was caring, supportive
This story has been updated.
Karen Pearce lived alone in her Smyrna apartment with her cat, Harry.
Her friend Joanna Hooten said the stylist was mostly homebody who moved to Atlanta from North Carolina more than a decade ago looking for a fresh start. Hooten, Pearce and their friend Christa met at Leon’s on Dec. 6. They had all worked as stylists in the Van Michael Salon and stayed friends. Hooten lives in East Lake, and Christa lives in Alabama. They routinely got together for girls’ night and Decatur was a frequent destination.
Pearce left early. Hooten and her friend saw the police cars and asked what was going on. A server said someone heard a gunshot. Their biggest concern at the time was how to get their cars out of the parking deck near One Decatur Town Center. The idea that their quiet, sweet friend was a murder victim never crossed their minds.
“That’s the thing,” Hooten said. “We would’ve never thought twice about Karen leaving by herself. We always did that.”
She called Pearce the next morning to see if she’d seen anything, but Pearce didn’t answer.
Hooten said she didn’t know anything had happened to her friend until police investigators arrived at her house to interview her. Police are still looking for leads in the case. They’ve confirmed Pearce died of a gunshot wound but have said little else about the circumstances surrounding her death.
Pearce’s parents told WITN in North Carolina that their daughter died as the result of a “bad robbery.” Decatur Police Sgt. Jennifer Ross said details of the case haven’t been released to anyone.
Hooten said police didn’t give her any indication whether it was a robbery or something more sinister.
“We told them every person she’d ever had an argument with, every man that’s ever been involved in her life,” Hooten said. “They’re trying to go through every option.”
Pearce didn’t have a big circle of friends, Hooten said. She loved animals and looked after Hooten’s when she was away.
“The ones she had she held very dear and close to her heart,” Hooten said. “She was very involved, supportive, great at giving advice.”
Hooten said she believes police are making progress in their investigation.
“They had nothing to go off of at the beginning,” she said. “I know since then they have discovered a few leads but they can’t talk about it.”
Police are still asking for the public’s help solving this crime. They 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.
A reward fund has also been established in the hopes that it will yield some new leads in the case.
Hooten said she and her friend Christa are hanging in there. They’re just baffled by the crime as everyone else.
“Karen didn’t have enemies,” Hooten said. “It seems so far-fetched to me that somebody was targeting her specifically.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled a name. This story has been updated with the correct spelling.