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Crime News Dateline

Young Mom Gunned Down in Broad Daylight By the "Most Unlikely Suspect" in Disguise

Heather Strube was fatally shot just feet from her toddler by "a murderer wearing a disguise," confusing witnesses and investigators before they focused on the shocking suspect.

By Jill Sederstrom
Heather Strube featured on Dateline "Deadly Swap"

A young, Georgia mom gunned down in a store parking lot during the day by the “most unlikely suspect" is the focus of an all-new Dateline NBC

“It was Sunday, 25-year-old Heather Strube planned a quick stop, but someone was waiting and watching,” Dateline correspondent Dennis Murphy said in a chilling preview clip of “Deadly Swap,” airing Friday, March 15 at 9/8c p.m. “Moments later, she was dead, shot and killed in broad daylight just a few feet away from her toddler son.”  

The young boy was sitting in the back seat of a car during the April 26, 2009 incident.

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Witnesses described the shooter as a white male who left on foot heading toward the back of the Snellville, Georgia shopping center — but there was more than meets the eye to this shocking case. 

“He had a mustache on and it looked really, really fake,” one witness told investigators, as seen in the show's preview video.

A Dateline description of the episode reveals that the young mother was shot by "a murderer wearing a disguise," leading detectives to focus on "a most unlikely suspect."

As Murphy told NBC Insider, the most shocking aspect of covering this murder was the killer’s “brazen” nature, and "walking that very mall parking lot where the perpetrator walked — not fled! — from the scene after shooting his victim to death in full view of horrified shoppers."

"It takes a few minutes at the cool, calm, pace he walked to exit the lot and disappear from view behind the buildings out back of the Target store," Murphy added. "All the while, shaken witnesses must have been saying: 'Did I just see what I think I did?' There he goes and no one’s going after him?”

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Detectives would eventually discover the killer was wearing a disguise in an attempt to lead investigators away from the truth. 

“My takeaway is, don’t necessarily believe in assumptions, or in this case, even your own eyes,” Murphy told NBC Insider. “The killer was, in fact, not a male but a woman in a shoddy disguise and it took investigators a while to get past their assumption blindness.”

Michael Vickers featured on Dateline "Deadly Swap"

The two-hour episode includes interviews with the victim’s boyfriend at the time, Michael Vickers, Detective Trey Downs, Detective Dean Boone, Chief Roy Whitehead, Buddy Allen, and Jennifer Bagby. 

Murphy told NBC Insider that the biggest challenge with covering the case was that 15 years had passed since the bold killing took place. 

“People we’d like to have heard from had died, memories were faulty," he said. "But ultimately, we were grateful for the people we did get to sit in our chairs and interview. For them, the recollection of the awful loss of their friend,  daughter, Heather, was as sharp and painful as though it had happened yesterday.”

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To find out more about the truth behind the compelling mystery, tune into Dateline NBC on Friday, March 15, at 9/8c p.m. on NBC, or stream it on Peacock the next day. 

And for more Dateline, sign up for the show's official newsletter and check out its podcast.

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