Neighbors rallying around mother of murdered Iona woman

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Suzanne LaPierre and James Lally. Credit: Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers

A community is rallying behind a mother who is mourning the loss of her daughter. Lee County deputies say Suzanne LaPierre was murdered in her home by her boyfriend.

LaPierre was not the only person who lived in the home she was killed in; her mother also lives there.

As WINK News Reporter Justin Kase walked to LaPierre’s mother’s home, multiple neighbors approached him asked that he not go to the house, saying LaPierre’s mother has been experiencing overwhelming grief.

WINK News respected their wishes. Neighbors said their goal now is to rally around LaPierre’s mother and show her that she’s not alone.

On Wednesday afternoon, neighbor Earl LaFollette stopped by the home of LaPierre’s mother and gave her a hug. “She’s lost a couple kids, so it’s very devastating for her. The people in here are all good people. They’re all here to help each other out,” said LaFollette.

LaFollette is one of the neighbors showing support for the family after investigators say LaPierre was brutally murdered by her boyfriend James Lally.

While thanking his detectives for their hard work in a news conference on Wednesday, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said Lally confessed to the crime. “They literally went everywhere and got the confession. And I couldn’t be more proud of their work,” Marceno said.

Investigators say LaPierre wanted to break up with Lally, and sometime later he used a hammer to kill her. Investigators say they found LaPierre’s remains in a wooded area along a dirt road in Lee County. They also say Lally pawned her valuable possessions at a Sarasota pawn shop before driving to Jacksonville.

“Instead of waiting for a lengthy extradition process, I sent a helicopter to pick him up and expedite justice,” said Marceno.

Lally is now back in Lee County, where he’s currently being held without bond.

The brutal murder is a shock for neighbors, especially since they describe LaPierre as a kind person who would help anyone.

“It’s a matter of disbelief. Until there’s time to really absorb that this has actually happened,” said neighbor Micki Larimer.

LaFollette said he lost his son in a hit-and-run crash, so he understands the pain LaPierre’s family now feels. “I went to see Barb and gave her a hug, and she said she couldn’t talk to nobody. So, I said, ‘that’s ok, I understand,'” said LaFollette.

The sheriff explained why Lally was charged with second-degree murder and not first. Based on the evidence they have, he said that is the charge that fits the criteria.

FGCU legal expert, Doctor Pamella Seay, said for the state to charge Lally with first-degree murder, there would have to be evidence and witnesses to prove that the murder was planned before it happened.

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