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Victim of slaying ignored warnings, friends say

POSTED: May 6, 2014 12:16 a.m.

Lula Bell Howard was living with the grandson accused of killing her, despite warnings from others, a friend of hers said Monday.

Patsy Moorehead said the 70-year-old helped raise Ronnie Quqomeki Rucker, 32, and was eager to help him following a run-in with the law.

“Just to hear the grandson that she actually raised and she just looked so forward to getting his life together would be the person who took her life ... it’s just overwhelming,” Moorehead said. “People were telling her not to bring him back into the house, but she just believed in helping other people and just believed in the family. I think she just believed that he would just change.”

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office arrested Rucker on Friday and charged him in Howard’s death at a home on Liberty Street in Gainesville.

Moorehead was still in shock Monday. She knew Howard through their church, St. John Baptist, as well as through Fair Street School, where Howard worked for a few years.

“She worked in the lunchroom (with the cleaning service),” Moorehead said. “She was a real soft-spoken Christian lady who believed in her family. She always talked about her grandkids that she raised and her sister that passed last year. She spoke well of them and was just a family person.”

She did earn the nickname of ‘The General’ for her no-nonsense approach, though.

“She kept all of us in line,” said Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville City Schools superintendent and former Fair Street principal. “She was a character and fun to work with.”

Howard was looking forward to retirement, and enjoyed going to church and being with her family.

She didn’t drive, but she loved shopping, especially at Next to New Resale Boutique on Cleveland Highway in Gainesville.

“She was a dear lady,” store owner and Times columnist Teressa Glazer said. “She was sweet and funny.”

One day, after perusing the store, Howard asked Glazer to call for a cab to take her back to her home in the New Holland neighborhood. After learning those taxi rides cost $8 per trip, Glazer and her staff offered to provide transportation so she could do her shopping.

“She would go to Family Dollar and some other stores,” Glazer recalled. “And then we’d take her back home when she was done.”

Deputy Nicole Bailes, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said the case remains under investigation.

She said the “motive will not be released to preserve the evidence in the case.” She could also not confirm a possible weapon.

Investigators previously confirmed Rucker called emergency services following the incident and disclosed he was Howard’s grandson.

Rucker waived a committal hearing Monday, and will next appear in front of a Superior Court judge.

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Rucker was a convicted felon and was most recently released to probation in December after serving time in prison on an aggravated battery conviction.

Because Rucker waived the committal hearing, the case automatically goes to Superior Court for eventual indictment by a grand jury.

For Howard’s friends, the events will take a long time to fade away. Moorehead last saw Howard on April 27, at church.

“You see them one day and they’re gone the next,” Moorehead said. “It’s difficult.”


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