When Marion Barbara Marshall took a trip to the grocery store on Monday, Aug. 14, she had no idea it would be her last day alive.
Later that same day, a friend of Marshall’s went to her home, at 6620 Bostwick Drive in Springfield, and found her body. According to a Fairfax County Police release, the initial investigation and autopsy determined that the cause of death was trauma.
Marshall, 72, had no relatives in the area. She never married and had no children. But her friends, said neighbors and one out-of-town relative, were plentiful.
“She was loved by everyone,” said Carolyn Rock, Marshall’s niece. “She was a saint on earth.”
Rock flew out from her home in Phoenix, Ariz. as soon as she learned of her aunt’s death. She remembers speaking to Marshall the night before she died. Marshall had told her how happy she was and how much she was enjoying her retirement. The next day would be her last, and police detectives are trying to figure out why.
“There is no clear-cut motive at this time,” said Richard Henry, a public information officer with Fairfax County Police. “We’re really searching for some help.”
The Giant grocery store at the northeast corner of Backlick and Braddock roads recovered surveillance video showing Marshall in the store around 11:15 a.m. on the day of her death. She shopped alone and drove home alone, according to Homicide Detective Dennis Harris, who said a neighbor was behind Marshall and pulled into her driveway at the same time as she did after her trip to the grocery store.
Pam Boaz, another neighbor, said Marshall was a caring woman. Boaz remembers when Marshall made a card for Boaz’s son, Aaron, last year when he came home from a tour of duty in Iraq in time for his 21st birthday. Marshall went door-to-door getting people to sign the card. That is just the kind of person she was, said Boaz.
“She always asked where he was, how he was,” said Boaz.
Marshall worked as a research librarian for tax analyst publications, and Rock said she was a very bright woman. Marshall did go through two hip-replacement surgeries over the past several years, and Boaz said “she was guarded in her walking.” Marshall no longer used a cane, but Boaz said someone could have easily overpowered her.
“What happened to her was horrible,” said Boaz.
Rock said her aunt was not dating anyone and hadn’t dated “since the 60s.” Marshall was happy with her friendships and with her life and was content with where she was, said Rock.
“It’s hard to believe something like this happening to such a caring person,” she said.
FAIRFAX COUNTY homicide detectives canvassed the area around Marshall's home and the grocery store where she was last seen, on Monday, Aug. 21. At least 20 detectives and police officers passed out flyers and went door-to-door to try and gain some information on Marshall’s murder. Detectives Amy Palizzi and Harris were on Marshall’s street with a stack of flyers. They said they spoke to everyone on the block, but they walked away without any solid leads in the case.
Boaz said she didn’t want her neighbor to become another statistic. The neighborhood is already on the look-out for suspicious activity, said Boaz, who has helped plan a neighborhood watch meeting for Aug. 30. Marshall's murder has changed the way of life on the quiet, North Springfield street.
“We used to leave our backdoor unlocked, but not anymore,” said Boaz.
Rock said her aunt was active in her church and in the community. Marshall had already signed up to attend the neighborhood watch meeting on the Aug. 30, and she regularly attended citizens association meetings. Rock remembers a co-worker of Marshall’s once describing her as “her model of serenity.”
“She would have been the first one to forgive the person who did this to her,” said Boaz. “This just doesn’t make any sense.”