Murder of Shirley Pierce by Marlene Johnson examined on Snapped

Mugshot of Marlene Johnson
Marlene Johnson is serving the rest of her life in prison. Pic credit: NC Dept. of Corrections

Snapped is investigating the brutal murder of Shirley Pierce, who was stabbed to death in her home in Kannapolis, North Carolina, by the obsessive Marlene Johnson.

On July 22, 2013, 62-year-old Shirley’s fiance was struggling to make contact with his wife-to-be. He drove to her home, which he found in a state of disarray, and discovered Shirley’s remains lying in a bathtub.

A pathologist would later describe Shirley’s death as particularly violent and painful; they said she would have been in great pain for about three to five minutes before losing consciousness.

The police instantly zeroed in on Marlene Johnson, who had previously shown she was obsessed with Shirley over the mistaken belief she was having an affair with her husband.

Shirley was a colleague of Johnson’s husband, and they sometimes socialized together with a group of their colleagues. Johnson had stalked the colleagues as they enjoyed nights out at a restaurant and, on one occasion, had even attacked Shirley while shouting, “I will kill you for f***ing my husband.”

Johnson even asked a restaurant waitress if she could install surveillance cameras to spy on her husband and Pierce. The waitress refused.

Marlene Johnson’s obsession with Shirley Pierce continued to grow

The killer and her husband eventually split, and Johnson began dating another man; however, she continued to be obsessed with Shirley. In fact, she tried to enlist her new boyfriend to help her keep up surveillance of Shirley and her ex-husband.

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On the day before the murder, Johnson texted a number she believed belonged to Shirley, writing, “Back off only way you will get [my husband] is over my dead body. You will not steel [sic] my husband you scankie w***e.” The message was actually sent to a 15-year-old high school student.

The next day, Johnson brutally murdered Shirley and later asked her boyfriend to provide her with an alibi.

Marlene Johnson convicted of killing Shirley Pierce

Johnson was ultimately convicted by the overwhelming amount of DNA evidence she left around Shirley’s home.

In January 2018, Johnson was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Despite the evidence against her, Johnson continued to claim innocence, telling Judge Stuart Albright, “I disagree with the decision. I am innocent. I was never there. I would not hurt anybody. I would not have killed Shirley Pierce.”

Judge Albright responded, “The DNA squarely contradicts everything that you just said… Mam, you will die in prison, that is my order.”

Snapped airs Sunday at 10/9c on Oxygen.

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