New burglary charge for Johnson

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 2, 2013

The woman charged with murdering Shirley Pierce has now been charged with burglarizing the victim’s Kannapolis home, getting an additional $500,000 bond.
Marlene Johnson’s bond for the murder charge was set at $450,000 Wednesday by District Court Judge Kevin Eddinger. The new bond, set by a Rowan County magistrate, brings the total bond to $950,000.
Johnson, 61, was charged Thursday with felony first-degree burglary. She is expected in court on Monday for a first appearance for the burglary charge. The same day, a grand jury will consider whether to indict her on the first-degree murder charge.
Pierce’s fiance discovered the 62-year-old’s body in her home the morning of July 23. She had multiple stab wounds and had died in an attack so violent, Rowan District Attorney Brandy Cook said in court this week, that the knife blade was broken off in her neck.
There were also signs that Pierce had been beaten, search warrants said.
Johnson was arrested and charged in Pierce’s death 12 hours after her body was discovered.
The arrest warrant served Thursday says Johnson broke into the Evandale Road home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. with the intent to commit a felony — murder.
Investigators found pieces of Pierce’s recent mail inside Johnson’s car and home during a search, according to the search warrants. In court Wednesday, the district attorney said Johnson also had surveillance photos of Pierce and aerial photos of her home and neighborhood.
Court records said Johnson believed Pierce was having an affair with her estranged husband, Ervin Johnson. Cook said during the hearing Wednesday there was no evidence Pierce had an affair with Johnson’s husband, who is the chief financial officer at Tuscarora Yarns, where Pierce also worked.
According to the search warrants, Pierce had filed multiple complaints and gotten restraining orders against Johnson over the past several years, saying that Johnson had attacked her at a fundraiser and a restaurant, among other things.
The day of her arrest Johnson approached a Huntersville Police officer asking if law enforcement was looking for her in a homicide. She told the officer she had an alibi. Court records say that friend Timothy Connor initially told authorities Johnson was at his house during the time of the murder, but he later recanted and said Johnson asked him to lie.
Johnson had been held without bond until the probable cause hearing Wednesday when Eddinger set her bond at $450,000. She is eligible for another bond reduction hearing on the new charge, but if the grand jury indicts her Monday, that would take place in Superior Court.
Johnson remains in the Rowan County Detention Center.