April 26, 2021 | By Mally Nichols
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Sarah Wallace’s greatest wish was to help people. She was a kind soul, a people person, and she gave a piece of herself to everyone she met.
She was carefree, danced in the rain, loved science, and had made plans to begin attending college. She was eying Cincinnati State, wanting to join the medical field to assist hospice patients and children.
“Everything she did was to help others around her,” Betsy Wallace, Sarah’s sister-in-law, said. “She had so much to live for.”
Sarah was a good kid growing up. She made good grades, landed her first job at just 15-years-old, and was working two jobs at the time of her murder, including one as a pharmacist assistant at CVS.
Betsy, who married Sarah’s brother Andrew, recalls meeting some of Sarah’s customers and seeing how much effort she put into making them smile. She always ensured that they were taken care of.
Sarah was an inspiration and a lifeline to those who needed her.
“She was the kind of person who would give you the last ten dollars in her pocket if you needed it, even if she needed it,” said Sarah’s friend Lucy Mueller.
Lucy and Sarah had met in 2005 and build a strong friendship. Lucy recalled that Sarah was always available should someone need to talk or a shoulder to cry on. She was a good listener and always said she had two shoulders and a t-shirt for a reason, even though tissues were often preferable.
Lucy credits a conversation she had with Sarah about their life goals as to why she graduated with a social work degree in 2014.
Sarah was only 11 years old when she met her future sister-in-law, Betsy. It wasn’t long before they became best friends.
Betsy always knew she could count on Sarah. That was the go-to phone call she could always make. Night or day – it didn’t matter. Sarah was always available to help, especially when it came to Betsy’s three kids.
Sarah dedicated much of her time and love to her nieces and nephew. She always loved Halloween and dressing up with the kids.
But her favorite time of the year was always the Fourth of July. Sarah adored the fireworks and enjoyed spending time with those she loved.
According to reports, Sarah and her boyfriend had a disagreement over how the July 4th holiday would be spent.
Two days later, on July 6, 2007, Sarah was found shot dead in her Cincinnati apartment.
Reports indicate that a man called 911 from his parent’s house saying he had just shot someone in the neighboring city, roughly 15 minutes away. He was arrested, but charges were not pressed.
In 2018, the case was brought to a grand jury. Prosecutors were told there was insufficient evidence to move forward. The case remains idle today as investigators await more evidence or a confession.
Sarah’s family continues to struggle with the loss of a sister, an aunt, and a best friend. They won’t stop fighting for justice despite the grand jury’s decision.
“There’s not a day we don’t talk about her,” Betsy said. “I don’t know when the time is to move on.”
A signpost decorated in purple ribbons and flowers with a cross attached with Sarah’s name is displayed outside her Cincinnati apartment.
The Wallace family convenes there on Sarah’s birthday.
“We don’t want her to be forgotten,” Betsy said.
Betsy recalled that construction workers had once taken all the decorations down and wrapped them carefully, putting them back when they had finished work at the site.
Sarah’s dream to do more to help people never came about.
She was happy, social, and everyone’s friend. Most remember her for her beautiful smile and her eagerness to put others first.
Sarah’s family maintains a Facebook page to keep her memory alive, continue fighting for justice in this case and others, and sharing resources for domestic abuse. Betsy sees the page as a coping mechanism. She uses her loss to empower and assist other victims of abuse.
“Protect the next person,” Betsy said. “That’s all Sarah was interested in.”
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Sarah Wallace, please call the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office at 513-946-6400.
Research & Impact
Project: Cold Case stands firm on the belief that unsolved homicides are a public safety issue and pose a potential threat for more people to be victimized.
However, many families managing the grief, trauma, and advocacy of their loved one’s case are handed another layer when waiting for suspects to be identified and held accountable. Often, these survivors hesitate to speak publicly and step into the spotlight for fear of retribution from the very person responsible for killing their loved one.
Whenever an opportunity presents itself to raise awareness for these cases, we at Project: Cold Case work diligently with the families to ensure their comfort level with the attention and whether or not they want to be publicly involved.
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