More than 30 years after she was killed, a Maryland man was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife.
John Joseph Norton was arrested on May 1 after police presented new evidence to a grand jury, leading to an indictment in the Dec. 17, 1985, murder of Karen Norton, 23.
Karen Norton was at home, having just returned from work at JCPenney, when she was stabbed to death.
“The initial investigation led police to believe that she was killed by an unknown suspect during a burglary, but as the case has continued to be worked by detectives through the years they began to narrow in on her husband, John Norton, as the primary suspect,” the Baltimore County Police Department said in a statement.
“Recent developments in the case have uncovered new evidence that further supported that theory, and the case was brought before the Grand Jury on Wednesday, May 1. After hearing the evidence, an indictment was issued and detectives served Norton with a warrant for his arrest that evening.”
Officer Jennifer Peach, a Baltimore County police spokeswoman, told the Baltimore Sun that a detective re-working the case was able to obtain new evidence.
“The detective currently investigating the case thoroughly re-examined crime scene photos to lay out exactly why earlier investigators began to believe the crime scene was staged,” said Peach, who declined to go into specifics. “Things that seemed insignificant to witnesses when initially interviewed became significant details to the detective currently on the case.”
“Additionally, time has a way of making witnesses more comfortable and this detective was able to get added information that supported the husband as the primary suspect by re-interviewing those witnesses,” Peach added.
When the evidence was presented to the grand jury, it returned charges of first-degree murder and assault with intent to maim.
Norton is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center pending a trial, reported CBS Baltimore. He’s being held without bail. No age was given for the suspect.
After 46 years, Johnston County sheriff’s deputies say they’ve solved the 1972 kidnapping and murder of Bonnie Neighbors with the arrest of former Benson resident Larry Joe Scott in Florida — https://t.co/JxR3xsKlRt @NCAGO @SBI1937 pic.twitter.com/VtxTmnJpDi
— Johnstonian News (@JohnstonianNews) April 30, 2019
Suspect Arrested in 1972 Cold Case
A man was arrested in Florida for murdering a woman in 1972, in one of North Carolina’s coldest cases.
Larry Joe Scott, 65, was charged on April 29 with kidnapping and killing Bonnie Neighbors.
Neighbors went to pick up her 7-year-old son from school on Dec. 14, 1972, then disappeared, ABC11 reported. Several days later, her body was found bound and shot in a migrant worker housing unit. Her 4-month-old baby was with her, still alive.
The case was reopened in 2007 by Sheriff Steve Bizzell, who remembers the murder case from when he was a 14-year-old boy.
“In 1972, I was only 14 years old, but something about Bonnie Neighbors’s killing and about this case always bothered me,” Bizzell told reporters at a news conference.
“After I became sheriff in 2007, I was still haunted because her killer had not been found.”
Larry Joe Scott was arrested Monday in Bradenton and charged with murder and kidnapping in the death of 33-year-old Bonnie Neighbors near Benson.https://t.co/B57F04NG2F
— NewsChannel 12 (@wcti12) May 2, 2019
After reopening the case, DNA evidence was resubmitted for testing. Retesting from the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab eventually led to Scott’s arrest, according to The News & Observer, with more developed techniques from the Crime Lab in 2017 improving the chances of DNA matches.
“Sometimes justice is swift. Sometimes it takes longer,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said, the newspaper reported.
Bizzell said the motive for the crime is unclear, with no obvious connection between Scott and Neighbors.
“An innocent young mother was murdered, and the baby left in her arms at a migrant labor camp near Benson,” Bizzell said. “And that baby laid there during those cold December nights until he was finally found.”
He added, “I was able to look that little baby boy—who is now a grown man in the eyes—and I was able to tell him we have found and arrested your mother’s murderer.”
NTD reporter Jane Werrell contributed to this report.