CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, Georgia State University officials stated Gracie Beavers was terminated for unsatisfactory performance in June 2016. On, Thursday, a spokeswoman retracted that information and said Beavers was offered a contract renewal, but declined to sign it. The story has also been updated with more information about a GoFundMe established for Beavers and the victim, Teddy Mierzwa.
Gracie Beavers sat on the patio of her McClendon Drive home Sept. 30 smoking a cigarette. It was 2 a.m. and the 35-year-old was dozing off when she heard two men come into her backyard, according to a DeKalb County police report.
Moments later, as she wrestled with one of the men, she heard two gunshots, police said.
Her husband Teddy Mierzwa had been fatally shot in the chest. The couple, according to friends, had just celebrated their two-year wedding anniversary.
After the shooting, Beavers was heard screaming, “Baby get up, baby get up,” a person inside the home told police.
Last week, police arrested Brandon Lowe at a business in Buckhead in connection with the drug-related home invasion and are searching for another possible suspect.
“We believe there is at least one person outstanding in this case which is still active,” DeKalb County police Sgt. J.D. Spencer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an emailed statement. “As far as the reasoning for the home invasion that is still under investigation.”
Police declined to speculate on a motive for the killing during the home invasion where police say the found a “large sum of narcotics.”
Beavers, a former assistant professor at Georgia State University, was arrested the night of the killing on a charge of trafficking cocaine, illegal drugs, marijuana or methamphetamine. She bonded out of jail Oct. 6, according to DeKalb County Jail records.
Beavers worked for the university from August 2013 to June 2016 in education psychology and special education in GSU’s College of Education. The university offered to renew Beavers’ contract, but she did not sign it, according to a school spokeswoman.
While police have not indicated if Lowe knew the victims, they have determined the crime was a targeted attack.
Lowe’s arrest came days before Mierzwa’s burial.
“As you all know, Teddy was a kind, generous, and thoughtful soul who loved Gracie deeply, as well as their dogs…,” a GoFundMe post read. “He is so sorely missed already, and his absence leaves such a hole for all who knew him.”
Nearly $25,000 was raised for Beaver’s legal fees and medical bills associated with the robbery, care of the couples’ four dogs, other expenses and funeral costs for Mierzwa, whose funeral was held Saturday in Stone Mountain.
Lowe remains in the DeKalb County Jail on murder and home invasion charges.
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.