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Arrest made in killing of Kannapolis woman, 62

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

SALISBURY In 2011, after Marlene Johnson was convicted of assaulting Shirley Pierce, a judge told her to stay away from Tuscarora Yarns and the woman she hit.

But Johnson, police say, didn’t comply.

She was charged with murder on Wednesday in connection with Pierce’s killing a day earlier. A friend found Pierce stabbed to death in the bathroom of her Kannapolis home.

Police have not released more details about the slaying. But court documents, restraining orders and legal proceedings provide a window into the acrimony between the women that ended with one dead and the other in jail.

Pierce, 62, was an administrative assistant to Ervin Johnson, Marlene Johnson’s husband and the chief financial officer at Tuscarora Yarns, based in Mount Pleasant.

Marlene Johnson, 61, had accused Pierce of having an affair with her husband, court documents say. The Johnsons were estranged at the time of Tuesday’s killing, but the threats, stalking and physical assaults have gone on since at least 2007, according to court documents.

A restraining order that Pierce took out against Marlene Johnson in 2011 says she “terrorized tormented and TERRIFIED me for no known reason.”

Johnson had also assaulted her, according to the court document, which says Johnson slapped Pierce in the face at the Westin hotel in uptown Charlotte while hosting an event for the National Head Injury Foundation.

Johnson had sent messages to other people at Tuscarora Yarns about the affair, the restraining order says, and she’d used her husband’s keys to gain access to the company’s building.

At one point, the restraining order says, Marlene Johnson called a restaurant while Pierce was eating and offered a waitress money to videotape Pierce.

Johnson, who is being held in jail without bond, made her first court appearance Wednesday. A bond hearing is scheduled for next week. Staff researcher Maria David and staff writer Steve Lyttle contributed.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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