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Dear Lady Bird

Updated: Jul 3

Dear Lady Bird,

You were the light in our life, so full of hopes and dreams. You never met a stranger and always put a smile on everyone’s face. You enjoyed all the simple things in life and excelled in your creativity. You protected all of us from time to time and we will never forget it. You shine through all of us individually daily. We honor your memory in the little things. We will continue to fight for you every day, until justice is served, and your case is no longer unsolved. It should never have been this way, but we stay strong for you, and hope we are making you proud.

Losing a loved one can be tough, an emotional rollercoaster and one of the most painful experiences any person endures. A grandparent passing away due to old age. An uncle who lost his battle with cancer. A cousin who met an untimely death due to a motor vehicle accident. All of it is tragic and can trigger great despair and helplessness. As time moves forward, the grieving process starts to slowly diminish and all that is left are the beautiful memories. The pain subsides and life starts to shift back into place. There is always a void and life as you know it is a little different, but you can move on from the loss. What happens when your life is thrown into turmoil over a loved one’s death? A senseless act of evil bestowed upon your family. This story is just about that, where there’s no healing until all answers are uncovered.

First, I want to thank Kim, the oldest sister of Princella as well as MaryAnn, Princella’s mother for speaking with me. It has been over three decades since their family has shared a memory with Princella, who was senselessly taken. Today, Princella’s family have gained their voice in advocating for her murder, in a long overdue fight for justice.

Princella Yolanda Eppes was born on March 31, 1968. Residing in Ohio with her mother MaryAnn, her stepfather Curtis Sr. and her older sister Kim. Later the couple welcomed Curtis Jr. and Ebony Joy. Curtis Sr. would later adopt Kim and Princella as his own. The family would eventually settle in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. Princella shared her beautiful name with a friend of MaryAnn’s. She gained a nickname that represented her well, “Lady Bird.” A ladybird is also a tiny red and black beetle commonly called a ladybug. “Lady Bird” can also be a descriptive term for someone who is a sweetheart. Princella was a sweetheart to everyone around. Princella and her sibling’s bonds were unmatched and were unique with each of them. Ebony Joy wanted to be referred to as “Bird Jr.”, after her big sister. You could always catch Princella and Curtis Jr. having a wrestling match. Kim described Princella as having a life of the party personality, with that extroverted nature rubbing off on Kim that allowed her to step out of her own comfort zone. Princella really took to her creative side and loved everything artsy. She would often write poetry or journal, frequently creating scrapbooks and penciling illustrations. Princella was known as the protector to her siblings, as she was fearless who marched to the beat of her own drum. She also had love for the church and was a devoted Christian who sang in the choir and studied the bible.

When Kim graduated from high school and moved away from Massachusetts to Atlanta for college, the close-knit family dynamic was a little broken. The distance from her family made MaryAnn want to visit Kim as she often could. After countless trips MaryAnn wanted to move to Atlanta to be closer to her eldest daughter. In the late 1980’s MaryAnn, Curtis Jr., and Ebony Joy packed up, to start new in Georgia. Princella decided to stay in Massachusetts but did join her family in Atlanta in 1989. This change was different for everyone, but it was an exciting one. A new environment that took some adjusting but they were finally back in one place, calling Atlanta their new home. After graduating high school Princella did not know which path she wanted to take when it came to a career. However, after moving to Atlanta, she quickly found a couple jobs. First, she worked and helped to maintain a drycleaning business, run by a family friend. The second was a driver for a horse and buggy coach. This earned Princella enough money to afford her own place. A place to call her own but still very close to all of her family. The first week of July 1990 Princella did just that and rented an apartment on North Highland Avenue. Princella was beyond excited for this newfound independence and the journey to adulthood was one she eagerly looked forward to.

On July 6, 1990, Princella was supposed to pick up her youngest sister Ebony Joy to stay the weekend at her new apartment but failed to do so. On Monday July 9, MaryAnn became concerned after she had a conversation with Princella’s employer at the dry-cleaning business. Her boss stated Princella was scheduled to work that Saturday, but she failed to open the store. After this interaction MaryAnn felt there was something wrong, she was a very dependable employee and was known for her work ethic. On that afternoon MaryAnn and Curtis drove to Princella’s new apartment. There, they noted a foul odor and flies on her apartment window from outside the apartment complex. The front door was locked and without a key to gain access they called the police. After opening her front door and looking around, Princella was discovered in her bedroom, on her bed. After closer examination it was evident she had been shot in the head. It was also apparent Princella had been deceased for quite some time, due to decomposition. That day was one the family will never forget. Like a dark cloud moved in and hovered over the family. Everything stopped in their lives, but the outside world kept moving. So many questions but it seemed very few answers as to what happened to their precious Lady Bird. While the family was mourning the loss of their beloved Princella the police were investigating her murder. As quickly as Princella was ripped away from their lives, her case was not gaining any new leads. MaryAnn recalls going to the precinct many times but nothing new was ever conveyed to her. In the Atlanta area during that time, there were many murders occurring and the department seemed overwhelmed with the rate of the crimes transpiring. Anticipating someone to be held responsible for Princella’s murder. The light quickly dimmed and communication between Atlanta Police Department and Princella’s family diminished.  

In 2016, Ebony contacted the Atlanta Police Department to inquire about Princella’s case. There was a review of her case in 2016, however no one followed up with Ebony about any of that information. In 2022, Kim did follow up with the Atlanta Police Department. Kim made it known her sister’s case had gone unanswered for way too long and her family wanted the person(s) responsible held accountable. It was during this time the police department shared some of what they knew with the family. In 1990 investigators recovered DNA, fingerprints, trace evidence, and shell casings. It is noted that Princella’s apartment was not ransacked, and nothing appeared to be taken from the scene. There were also two condom wrappers discovered at the scene leaving the assumption that an assault was the motive. During the early investigation more than one neighbor of Princella came forward. The first neighbor gave a statement that between 11:00PM and 11:45PM on July 6, they saw her walking across the parking lot to her apartment building. She was in the company of a male, approximately six foot and a slim build, she had her head down while the pair walked together. As the neighbor passed, they said “Hi” but neither Princella nor the unknown man ever responded to the greeting. Another neighbor came forward and stated in the early morning hours of July 7, at about 1:00AM they heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot. A female neighbor of Princella’s told detectives she could have been dating two men. A police officer told detectives that the night Princella was murdered, he was with her in her apartment. He was helping her hang curtains. This officer did not recall seeing condom wrappers or anything unusual out of place while he was visiting and left her place at around 10:30PM. In 2016 Atlanta police department made note that this officer had a solid alibi. Also, in the 2016 review of Princella’s case detectives firmly believed an extensive investigation is exactly what would be needed to solve her case. In 2022, Kim retired from her career and has since made it her mission to bring closure to her sister’s case. At the end of that year, Princella’s family asked Atlanta Police Department for another review of the case. It was during this meeting the police stated they sent off DNA evidence in the case for testing however results could take many months. At the beginning of 2024, hoping for some sort of answer, they got it, but it was not what they were expecting. No evidence was ever sent off to be examined or tested. A crushing blow and a violation of trust broken instantly. A new detective was assigned to her case, which was great and possibly a new sign of hope for the family. Since the beginning of this year, there have been no new updates in the investigation, but Princella’s family holds out hope that someone will be held accountable after all these years.

What happened to Princella “Lady Bird” Eppes on July 6, 1990? She had only been living in her apartment for less than a week before her murder. The crime scene told a story, and as the story went, it is believed Princella knew who attacked her. No forced entry, nothing stolen from her apartment and no struggle as if a fight took place. Why would someone want to hurt her? Princella had her whole life ahead of her. Although she didn’t necessarily know what she wanted to do with her future, career wise, it is clear she could have done anything in this world. That night someone took that from her. Her life mattered and it’s such a shame all these years later her family is still left without answers and Princella left without justice served, when answers should have been presented many years ago. The family continues to work as a unit in the pursuit of justice for their dear Lady Bird.

Please consider joining the Facebook page in memoriam of Princella: Princella Yolanda Eppes Memorial | Facebook

Atlanta Crime Stoppers is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest in the unsolved murder of Princella Eppes.

A special thanks to Haley Gray of Haley Gray Research on this collaboration.

Listen to Princella's story on Detective Perspective:

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you so much for covering Princella’s case ❤️

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