A date has been scheduled for the trial of a woman accused of murdering popular Sandy Springs fitness instructor Marlene Diane Colon. Colon was killed on April 5, 2021, in her own home, allegedly by the woman who had been renting a room from her.
Chelci Chisholm pleaded not guilty in front of Judge Ural Glanville in Fulton County Superior Court on Jan. 31, during a very brief arraignment. According to Jonathan, one of Colon’s two sons, he and his wife, Tasha, attended the brief hearing. “Her public defender put in a non-guilty plea,” he told the AJT. “We were there for a few hours and her portion was only about five to 10 minutes.”
“It was a very emotional and draining day,” he added, noting that his brother, Loren, had been unable to attend the arraignment. “Moving forward, we plan to be up to date on all of the proceedings regarding the case.”
According to Fulton County records, Chisholm’s trial will begin at 9 a.m. on Aug. 8, with Judge Glanville presiding. Chisholm will stand trial on counts of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and obstructing a law enforcement officer.
Chisholm, who was arrested at the crime scene, was denied bond in her first appearance in Fulton County Superior Court two days after the murder.
“We believe the suspect is the person that made the 911 call,” said Sandy Springs police, “but the dispatcher didn’t understand what was being said, and that’s the reason officers were dispatched to the home to an unknown disturbance.” Law enforcement officials reported that when “officers arrived, they encountered the woman-suspect in the garage holding an object and challenging officers. After a brief struggle with officers, she was subdued and taken into custody.”
Fulton County Superior Court records indicate that Chisholm is also known as Malka Padalon. As the AJT previously reported, the defendant had changed her name. An Israeli driver’s license indicated that she had lived in the Tel Aviv area.
Sandy Springs detectives say that Chisholm had only been living at Colon’s house for one month when the murder occurred. Court documents filed in Fulton County showed that Chisholm had listed an address in Duluth, where she had lived until a few years ago with an ex-boyfriend. That house has since been sold.
It was in that house, in December 2017, that Chisholm allegedly attacked her boyfriend. According to Gwinnett County documents, Chisholm was charged with misdemeanor battery and simple assault. Those documents also indicate that Chisholm forfeited her bond and did not appear at a bench trial scheduled in October 2018. Chisholm had apparently left the Atlanta area and returned to Israel, before coming back to Atlanta not long before the murder.
The 73-year-old Colon had been a popular aqua aerobics and Zumba instructor at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and the Breman Jewish Home and was active in the Jewish community. Her license plate, according to her son, read ZUMBA4U. She particularly enjoyed working with the elderly and with children with disabilities. On her resume, she wrote, “I have a passion and commitment to increase the activity level among students of all ages and fitness levels.”
In addition to her two sons, Jonathan and Loren, Colon is survived by grandchildren Matthew and Julianne and more than a dozen first cousins.
“We hope that justice prevails and our Mom, Marlene, can rest in peace,” said Jonathan Colon. “We would appreciate the Jewish community’s support in her trial.” When asked to elaborate, he noted that the trial will be a public forum at the Fulton County Courthouse. He urged that “anyone that my Mom had a positive influence on or connection with in the Jewish community, that would like to attend the trial, is welcome.”
Colon, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, certainly impacted many in the Atlanta community. In June 2021, a Zumba class was held in her honor near the pool in the Spalding Lake subdivision where she had lived. In May, her family and friends celebrated her life at a Braves game, highlighted by a memorial message on the left field scoreboard.
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- Marlene Diane Colon
- Loren Colon
- Zumba class
- Jonathan Colon
- Sandy Springs
- Judge Ural Glanville
- Fulton County Superior Court
- Tasha Colon
- Fulton County
- felony murder
- aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
- obstructing a law enforcement officer
- misdemeanor battery
- simple assault
- Sandy Springs Police
- tel aviv
- Gwinnett County
- Matthew Colon
- Julianne Colon
- Atlanta Braves
- Spalding Lake subdivision
- Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta
- Breman Jewish Home
- jewish community
- Fulton County Courthouse
- Malka Padalon
- Chelci Chisholm