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She was murdered in broad daylight with an eyewitness. 30 years later, her case is still unsolved

Posted at 4:47 PM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-08 18:47:59-05

The murder of a young woman in broad daylight with an eyewitness is still unsolved more than 30 years later.

Lisa LeAnne Atkins was born in 1966. It's a day her mother, Martha Demaniou, will never forget.

"She was fun-loving," Demaniou said. "She loved animals. Absolutely adored animals."

One of the animals Lisa loved was a parrot that squawked in the background as Demaniou spoke.

At age 21, Lisa gave birth to a baby of her own: Scott. His grandmother Martha was the first person to hold him. 

"They said someone has to hold him," Martha said. "Robert looks at me and says 'not me.' And I said OK. I was the first one to hold him."

Barely a year old, Scott would lose his mother to a murder that is unsolved to this day.

Demaniou said she believes, still, that Lisa had a premonition.

"I believe she thought she was going to die because she kind of distanced herself a little bit," Demaniou said. "Last few months, she was a little less close."

The 22-year-old was at work the day before Easter in 1988 when an armed robber walked into the Village Pet Mart on Orange Grove.

"I picked up Scott at his grandma's and brought him home and put him down for a nap. Lisa called me and she was just talking, we were going to meet after she got off work to cash my IRS check." Demaniou said.

The two never got to follow through with those plans.

"I put Scott down for the nap and I laid down with him," Demaniou said.

While their mother was sleeping, Lisa's younger sister, Katina, was riding her bike. She heard something happened at the plaza down the street where Lisa worked. Katina raced to the plaza, but police would not let her inside.

Lisa's mother recalls the moment she knew her daughter was gone.

"The district attorney's office and the victim's witness brought Katina home," she said. "As soon as I saw the man, I knew she was dead."

Her parents said Lisa was at the cash register with a co-worker when the armed robber pulled out a gun and started demanding money. 

Lisa's co-worker tried to open the cash drawer, but fumbled his keys, and dropped them on the floor. When the co-worker bent down to pick up the keys, the robber shot Lisa.

"Shouldn't happen to anyone," Demaniou said. "You should never happen to bury your children. Should not."

The Pima County Sheriff's Department released a sketch showing a bearded man with sanding hair in his late 20s. He's described as 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing about 170 pounds. 

Lisa's mother told KGUN 9 the sketch never turned up any leads, as the search for her daughter's killer continues. 

"It bothers me to think that some other mother must have known her child did it and didn't do anything about that," Demaniou said.

Lisa's son, Scott, is now 31-years-old. He's married with two children. Lisa's parents, David and Martha, call Scott their son. They raised him after his mother died. 

After three decades of waiting Lisa's family is still waiting for justice. 

"It's been so long it's almost like the memories are gone, I'm afraid," Martha said.

Anyone with information about what happened to Lisa or who murdered her is encouraged to call 911 or 88crime.