Mother longs for answers in son’s death

BOTHELL — Strangers sent Diana Marshall letters about her son.

They wrote her about how Robert “Brent” Marshall touched their lives. The Seattle man was kind and warm. He’d taught one man to fish. The father of another friend recalled how much he enjoyed Marshall’s company at a family gathering.

Marshall’s mother treasures those letters — even after all of these years. They remind her how good her son was to the people in his life.

“He was kind and loving,” Diana Marshall said. “It’s hard for me to even fathom why someone would take his life. It just broke my heart.”

Brent Marshall, 29, was found stabbed to death in 1982 near a taxi cab in Bothell. He drove for Hawley’s North End Taxi.

Police have never found Marshall’s killer. His death is part of the state’s first deck of cold-case playing cards. He is featured on the four of hearts. Snohomish County sheriff’s cold case detectives have provided the cards to jail and prison inmates in hopes of soliciting tips for unsolved homicides and missing persons cases that date back decades.

Diana Marshall, 74, said a day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t think about her son.

“You learn to live with it. You never get over it,” said Marshall, who runs a feed store in Branson, Mo.

Her son moved to Seattle after he got out of the Air Force. He’d been a carpenter. After he hurt his knee, he used his G.I. bill to go to cosmetology school and became a hairdresser.

Her oldest son drove the cab on the weekends to earn extra money, his mom said.

His body was found inside his cab off 208th Street SE in Bothell. His last fare had been dispatched to the Sir Loin Inn in Lake Forest Park shortly before midnight the day before.

Diana Marshall knows detectives have tried to solve the case. She also believes the case was complicated because her son likely was stabbed by a stranger.

“I figured I’d go to my grave without knowing. I’d about given up,” she said. “I’m happy they’re trying these cards. I know it won’t change anything, but somehow you want to know. You want to know why. Why?”

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463,

About this series

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives created the state’s first deck of cold-case playing cards. Each Sunday for a year, The Herald is publishing a story about a case featured on one of the cards. The 52 cards can be viewed at

Anyone with information about unsolved homicides or missing persons cases is asked to call 800-222-TIPS (8477). Up to a $1,000 reward is offered.

Tips also can be left on the sheriff’s tip line at 425-388-3845. Callers may remain anonymous, although tips have been more successful when callers speak with detectives, police said.

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