More than 33 years after Karen Ann Norton was found dead in her Maryland home, police now believe her husband allegedly stabbed her to death

By KC Baker
May 08, 2019 04:26 PM
Baltimore County Police

When Karen Ann Norton arrived home from her job at a J.C. Penney in Baltimore on Dec. 17, 1985, the 23-year-old happened upon an apparent burglary and was fatally stabbed by an unknown assailant, police said at the time.

Now, more than 33 years later, police allege they’ve uncovered new evidence showing the victim’s newlywed husband at the time, John Joseph Norton, now 57, of Sykesville, stabbed her and staged the crime scene to look like a break-in, multiple outlets including the Baltimore Sun, CBS Baltimore and WBAL-TV report.

“This is something that the victim’s family has been waiting a really long time for,” Baltimore County Police spokeswoman Jennifer Peach told local station WBAL-TV. “It’s been 33 years in the making and I think the investigators and the department, along with the family, are just ecstatic that we were finally able to get this case to the point where we can prosecute it.”

The case was brought before a grand jury on May 1, CBS Baltimore reports.

After listening to the new evidence, the grand jury indicted Norton on charges of first-degree murder and assault with intent to maim, online court records show.

Norton was arrested on a warrant on May 1, after the grand jury hearing.

John Joseph Norton, 57, of Maryland
Baltimore County Police

He remains held without bond at the Baltimore County Detention Center pending trial, online court records show.

Norton told authorities he discovered his wife’s body the day she was killed after returning to their Catonsville home and finding her keys in the front door, the Sun reported at the time.

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In the ensuing years, authorities began to suspect the scene was staged and that Norton was the alleged killer, the Sun reports.

“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,” Peach told the Sun. “Things that seemed insignificant to witnesses when initially interviewed became significant details to the detective currently on the case.”

“Time,” Peach added, “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.”

The Baltimore County Police Department did not return PEOPLE’s calls and emails for comment.

Court records do not show a lawyer listed for Norton. He has not yet entered a plea to the charges against him.