On May 23, 2013, a bullet struck Laurien Marsh in the head. She miraculously survived the shooting with minor physical consequences, but the emotional scars never healed in the months before she died Feb. 16 at age 60, her daughter said.
“My mom lived in fear for her life,” said Hallie Harshbarger. “No one deserves to go through what she did.”
Marsh, a Gainesville resident, told Sheriff’s Office investigators she was robbed of $20 and shot point-blank in her car at Wayne Wilson Pottery in Lula.
“This was a senseless crime. My mom did everything that was asked and the woman shot her in the head and left her for dead,” Harshbarger said. “We have been ripped apart with worry and now grief in the passing of my mom not even a year after that fateful day she was shot.”
Wilson, who has owned the store more than 20 years, said Friday that Marsh was beloved by customers. He received an outpouring of support after the shooting, and her death.
“Customers here just loved her to death,” he said. “I bet we had 10 calls a day asking about her after her passing. It’s still like that every day when we open up.”
The attacker was described by the Sheriff’s Office as a white woman with sunglasses and a ball cap.
For residents of Lula, an East Hall town of fewer than 3,000 people, the violent encounter was unsettling. Workers at Corner Cafe described their alarm upon hearing the news about their neighbors, and even suspected that the shooter stopped by just after committing the crime.
“There was a woman in here, and she was all hyped up about something. She ordered a sausage biscuit and she was very impatient, like she was in a hurry,” employee Susan Blackstock described in May, noting the woman was wearing a baseball cap.
In the incident report, Marsh told a witness she thought her attacker followed her from Gainesville.
Marsh said the woman pulled away in a red SUV with some kind of rack on the roof, according to the incident report.
Harshbarger said the family has tried to track and aid the investigation however they can.
“We have worked with the police and ... posted a sketch with a reward,” she said.
But Sheriff’s Office spokesman Nicole Bailes said the case has been at a standstill.
“Unfortunately we do not have any updates with this case. The case remains open,” she said. “There are no known suspects and her passing was not in relation to the shooting incident.”
Although her death was not directly related to her injury, Harshbarger said the detrimental effect on her mother’s life was devastating.
“My mom was a beautiful person, inside and out. She was a mom, a wife, a grandmother a sister and a friend,” Harshbarger said. “We need justice so we can have some sort of closure.”
She said the family hopes that renewing interest in the case will help spur a breakthrough; the Sheriff’s Office often depends on tips to recharge a case.
“Her friends and family are begging, reaching out for any information that is out there to bring this case out of an inactive state and help find the person responsible for this crime,” she said.
Wilson said he’s not sure what else can be done. A $5,000 reward seemed to prompt some response, he said, citing an armed robbery arrest in Cartersville from a tip. Yet the Georgia Bureau of Investigation deemed it unrelated because of the differing circumstances, including the weapon used, he said.
Like Harshbarger, Wilson said he wants to see an arrest both for justice for Marsh, and the safety of the community from those without regard for human life.
“The girl that shot her is still out there somewhere. To shoot someone right in the head ...” he said, trailing off. “I don’t know much about this stuff, but it’s awful. It’s awful. That’s all I know.”