In-law charged in death
Arrest made 6 months after Target shooting

LAWRENCEVILLE - Nearly six months after 25-year-old Heather Strube was gunned down in a Snellville parking lot, just feet from her infant son, police have made an arrest.

About 4 p.m. Wednesday, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents and investigators from the Snellville Police Department and Meriwether County Sheriff's Office arrested Strube's mother-in-law and long-time suspect, Joanna Hayes.

Snellville police Capt. Harold Thomas said Hayes was taken into custody without incident in Meriwether County, where she has been staying.

Strube and her husband, Steven, were reportedly in the final stages of their divorce. On the afternoon of April 26, the couple met at the Target on Ga. Highway 124 to swap custody of their 18-month-old son. Moments after Steven Strube drove away, police said, someone approached Heather, who was outside of her Cadillac Escalade. A struggle ensued, and the attacker shot the young mother once in the head before fleeing.

A sketch released by authorities suggested the killer was a slim, white man wearing a wig and fake mustache. It wasn't long, however, before investigators, after reviewing surveillance video and discussing the sketch, entertained the possibility of a female killer.

They believed Strube knew her assailant. Because it resembled the vehicle seen idling near the crime scene, Hayes' white pickup truck was sent to the GBI lab for forensics testing. Those tests were initially reported to be "inconclusive but helpful."

Investigators were slowly closing in on Hayes as a prime suspect, even though she reportedly passed a polygraph.

They just never had enough evidence to file charges. Until now.

Thomas declined to comment on the evidence that led authorities to seek an indictment, referring questions to the Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office.

"We will rely on the District Attorney's Office to determine what they want to release prior to trial," Thomas said.

Thomas also declined to comment on a suspected motive for the slaying.

Steven Strube, Thomas said, is not being investigated at this time.

Hayes was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail on Wednesday night and is being held without bond.