Solon woman remembered after deadly crash and shooting

Posted at 8:43 AM, Aug 29, 2016

A flier taped to the glass door of the South East Harley-Davidson dealership is asking for funds to be donated to the family of Deborah Pearl – a mother of three who was killed over the weekend in Solon.

“We will miss her dearly,” said Diana Allie who was Pearl’s manager at The Original Harley Diner inside of the dealership in Bedford Heights. “We will support them any way we can. She (Pearl) deserves that.”


Pearl, 53, of Twinsburg was shot and killed Saturday morning after a crash near the intersection of Solon and Richmond roads, police said.

Police have charged Matthew Ryan Desha, 29, of North Ridgeville with murder in connection with the Pearl's death.

Officers responded to the intersection after a report of shots fired about 7:20 a.m. Saturday. 

When police arrived, they found Desha with a 5.56 mm rifle and Pearl, who had been shot several times and left in the roadway.

Desha was arrested at the scene.

Pearl was taken to a local hospital. She was pronounced dead not long after the crash at 8:18 a.m.

Police said Desha ran a red light, causing the two vehicles to collide in the intersection, and rolling Desha's vehicle over several times. Desha got out of his overturned vehicle with a rifle and walked over to Pearl's vehicle and shot her, police said.

Raynelle Finch, a resident of the Solon Club Apartments, said she heard the collision between Desha and Pearl about 7 a.m. from her fifth-floor unit. The apartment complex is near the intersection. 

"I heard screeching then a pop," she said. "And then I heard five or six shots and a woman scream."

Fitch, 41, said she told her daughter to get down and give her cell phone to her so she could call the police. Finch said she heard about 12 gunshots. 

"I kept asking myself, 'What is going on?'"

According to the U.S. Marine Corps, Desha served from 2004 to 2008. He was deployed to Iraq twice during that time. Neighbors told he struggled after his time in the military.

“He was also the kind of person that if someone was trying to mess with him, like a guy picking a fight with him, you’re going to get pummeled," said Desha's neighbor Kathleen Salvatore.

At the time of the accident, Allie and Assistant Manager Renee Basler knew something was wrong when Pearl did not report to work at the diner at her usual time. Deborah, who was known as “Debbie,” was never late.

Basler passed the crash site Saturday morning after she was called in to work early to fill in for Pearl. Basler, who requested a friend to take a picture of the late model Ford Taurus that was involved in the wreck, found out it was Pearl by zooming in on the photo and noticing the license plate.

“Debbie was like clockwork,” Basler said as she wrestled with tears. “I’m going to miss my friend.”

Pearl worked six days a week at the diner and showed up at 7:30 a.m. to prepare breakfast for customers. As she cooked on the open grill, she played gospel music and would exchange smiles, jokes and dance moves with Allie and Basler. Often times, Pearl had an audience and chatted with regulars and she refilled their coffee.

Allie said she’ll remember Pearl for her robust laugh and her morning talks about religion. But it will be Pearl’s energy that they would miss most.

“I never forget when she asked me for a job,” Allie said. “I could see sweetness and goodness in her. I hired her immediately. You can tell people’s goodness.”

Pearl's relatives were eating at the diner, but they declined to speak with The relatives gave Allie permission to speak with reporters.

RELATED: 5 on Your Side Investigators took a look into Desha's past