Austin mother ‘overwhelmed’ by break in son’s murder case

Published 12:47pm Friday, November 15, 2013

More: Click here for the story ‘Arrest soon in AHS grad’s murder’

Lana Hollerud, mother of slain Austin man Beau Zabel, said Thursday night she was “overwhelmed” to learn that there could be justice for her son.

Five years after Zabel’s death, Philadelphia police and prosecutors say they finally have enough evidence to charge Zabel’s alleged killer, Marcellus Jones, 35, of North Philadelphia. Jones was already serving a life sentence for killing the suspected getaway driver in Zabel’s murder, Tyreek Taylor, 20, so Taylor couldn’t speak to police.

Beau Zabel
Beau Zabel

Philadelphia police said they wanted to be able to call Zabel’s parents and say that they not only knew who killed their son — but they were charging him with the crime.

In Austin, Hollerud said Thursday night that she had spoken with investigators.Five years after Zabel’s death, Philadelphia police and prosecutors say they finally have enough evidence to charge Zabel’s alleged killer, Marcellus Jones, 35, of North Philadelphia. Jones was already serving a life sentence for killing the suspected getaway driver in Zabel’s murder, Tyreek Taylor, 20, so Taylor couldn’t speak to police.

Philadelphia police said they wanted to be able to call Zabel’s parents and say that they not only knew who killed their son — but they were charging him with the crime.

She had attended Jones’ trial for killing Taylor — and left convinced that he was the man who killed her son. But she returned to Minnesota never thinking investigators would get the evidence they needed, that too much time had passed.

She said she was surprised by how happy she was.

“I believe people should be held accountable for their actions, and that was the part that was always missing,” she said. “Someone hurt Beau and they weren’t being held accountable for it.”

Beau Zabel — a 2003 graduate of Austin High School and 2008 graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. — was 23 and had been in Philadelphia only six weeks when he was shot in the back of his neck while walking home from his summer job at a Starbucks late on June 15, 2008.

Terry Zabel, Beau’s stepfather, told the Herald Thursday it’s hard for him to define closure, but he is glad the man he believes killed his son is behind bars.

“We’re both comfortable the person who did this is behind bars for the rest of his life,” Terry said last night. “And Lana has the same feelings on what closure means.”

Terry is grateful investigators were still following up on the case, even though Jones is already in prison.

“Just the effort of the homicide detectives and the police department to keep following up on this, that’s what kind of amazes me,” Terry said. “I’m glad that they are getting more information on it.”

Before he died, Beau was accepted to Drexel University in Philadelphia, and planned to teach math and earn his graduate degree. He was living life the way locals and those close to him remember: as a leader.

Terry said to this day, it’s hard to deal with Beau’s death, but they still commemorate his birthday and the family gets together on the day he was killed each year.

“We think of him all the time,” he said.

— Reporter Matt Peterson and The Philadelphia Inquirer contributed to this report.