HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It was a year ago - in broad daylight - an afternoon shopping trip to Myrtle Beach Mall ended in gunfire.
Francis Mae Davis, a mother, a grandmother and great grandmother, was killed that day - but why? And by whom?
There are still so many unanswered questions as authorities continue to investigate and family members struggle to go on with their lives.
Whether she was bowling with her family or riding the bike she just had to have for Christmas, Francis Mae Davis, who was 78 years young, lived life to the fullest. She loved her job as a cashier at Food Lion and she loved to shop. In fact, that's where she was one day before her 79th birthday, with her best shopping buddy, her daughter Shelly Wells. And as was common for "Mae," as she was known, she waited in the car while Shelly ran into JC Penney at the Myrtle Beach Mall. She was known to take a nap while her daughter ran into stores. And Shelly couldn't have been gone for more than 10 minutes, but when she returned, that's when so many lives changed - in an instant.
"I just um, I just um couldn't get her to wake up. And I kept pushing her in the shoulder and she wouldn't wake up. And then that's when I lifted her head and then that's when I saw she had blood down the front of her and her tongue was hanging out of her mouth and that's when I started freaking out," said Shelly Wells.
Frantic, Shelly called 911.
"I can't get her to wake up, she's got her tongue out of her mouth and blood coming out of her," Wells told dispatchers.
"The 911 caller is trying to keep me calm and having me put my head on her chest to see if I could hear her heartbeat and I'm like 'There's no heartbeat,' and he had me check her pulse and I'm like 'No.' And then he's asking me what kind of medication she's taking, and then that's when I - she always kept her purse on the floor by her foot and it was not there," Wells said.
Mae's purse was missing, but nothing else. Her iPhone, diamond necklace, even her car were all left untouched. Was this a random purse snatching? There had been a purse grab at the mall a few weeks before. But why did the suspect have to shoot her for the mere $10 inside? Why did they have to destroy so many lives? Police are as baffled as Mae's family. They have yet to get any traction in this case.
Mae lived with her daughter Michelle. Michelle can't seem to let go.
"Her clothes are still in her closet, I just can't bring myself to do anything in there," said Michelle Gagne.
And the pain goes far deeper. Michelle will tell you it's almost debilitating.
"I do not go anywhere by myself. My husband has to be with me or my sister has to be with me. I have anxiety really bad with it. This person has my address. They have her purse, so they have my address. So there's a lot of sleepless nights. I don't sleep very well, I have nightmares," Gagne said.
So, the suspect took not only Mae's life that day, Shelly and Michelle are now in therapy. And Mae's five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren had to spend their first Christmas last month without her. An entire family, turned upside down, all for $10 that family members say Mae would have handed over without a fight.
Michelle now stays busy distributing flyers, updating billboards and telling her story through those Value-Pak coupons received in the mail. She even set up a Facebook page seeking justice for her mother. Michelle's a one-woman army who will admit the questions and the senselessness are almost too much to take.
"What if it was your mom, your sister, your aunt, your cousin? How would you feel? We need closure and I don't think we're going to get it until we find the person that did it," Gagne said.
Mae's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging Myrtle Beach Mall did not have operating video surveillance outside the building and that the lack of security in general contributed to her death.
Authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The family is matching that reward. If you have any information, you're urged to call the Horry County Police Department.