Joyce Marie Pelzer is already serving a life sentence for the 2018 killing of her wife Rosalyn Lewis, who allegedly helped her kill Shawndell McLeod in 2011
A Georgia woman serving a life sentence for fatally stabbing her wife in 2018 has now been convicted of killing her ex-girlfriend in 2011, a case that went cold for seven years, according to authorities.
Joyce Marie Pelzer, 47, was found guilty on Friday in the kidnapping and murder of Shawndell McLeod, 35, on September 25, 2011, shortly after the victim left an alleged abusive relationship with Pelzer, the Dekalb County District Attorney’s office said in a statement. A judge sentenced her to life without parole.
Pelzer is already serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the fatal stabbing of her wife Rosalyn Lewis, who herself was allegedly involved in the kidnapping and killing of McLeod, a witness told authorities, according to the statement.
A few months before Lewis’ killing, Pelzer’s “newest girlfriend” notified Dekalb police that Pelzer was planning to kill Lewis, who had filed for divorce. Lewis was found with numerous stab injuries in a motel room a few days after police were warned. When found, she told officers Pelzer had stabbed her, and she later died from her injuries, according to the statement.
Following a police chase, Pelzer was arrested and eventually pled guilty to the charges in 2021.
Now, more than a decade after McLeod went missing and police found her car abandoned with a tarp inside, Pelzer has been found guilty in the killing of the 35-year-old woman, the D.A.’s office announced.
In September 2011, McLeod’s mother reported her missing after she failed to show up for work, the statement said, and family members couldn’t find her in her Lithonia, Ga. home.
When authorities learned about McLeod and Pelzer’s then-estranged relationship and interviewed her, Pelzer allegedly gave inaccurate information about her whereabouts the day after McLeod’s disappearance, according to the D.A.’s office.
Police were able to break the case in 2018 after speaking with Pelzer’s girlfriend, who told them that Pelzer had admitted to killing McLeod with Lewis' alleged help.
The girlfriend, who has not been named in the report, told authorities that Lewis had hired someone to kill McLeod. The three then kidnapped the victim and held her for a few days “while they dug a hole for her body,” authorities said.
Pelzer eventually disclosed the location of the body to authorities, but they did not find anything following “an extensive search” in 2019, according to the statement. McLeod's body still remains missing.
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