Widow, 84, Charged With Murder 35 Years After Husband's Death — and TV Show Helped Solve Case

The death of Norma Allbritton's husband was believed to be connected to a robbery

In this undated booking photo provided, by the Leon County, Texas, Sheriff's Office is 84-year-old Norma Allbritton. Allbritton was arrested July 1 on a murder charge in the 1984 shooting death of her husband Cold Case Texas Slaying - 10 Jul 2019
Photo: AP/Shutterstock

Thirty-five years after her husband’s killing, an 84-year-old Texas woman has been charged with murder — and police are also investigating her in connection with her daughter’s 1981 death, which was deemed a suicide at the time but is now considered suspicious.

Norma Allbritton was charged on July 1, according to The Eagle, Palestine Herald-Press and KBTX.

Johnnie Allbritton was shot five times as he entered his home on May 14, 1984, Leon County Sheriff Kevin Ellis said. At the time, Norma told police she came home with a child and found the front door locked. When she looked inside the home through a window, she saw guns and became worried and then called authorities.

At the time, police believed Johnnie was killed during a robbery, according to the Eagle. A blanket found near the body was believed to have been used to carry items from couple’s Buffalo home and the family reported that bank bag containing thousands of dollars was missing.

However, two weeks after her husband’s death, Allbritton canceled a scheduled polygraph test, claiming she’d accidentally shot herself. The polygraph was never rescheduled and the killing eventually went cold.

Johnnie Allbritton

The case was reopened in 2015 when Ellis reached out to producers of the TV show Cold Justice, which airs on Oxygen, and sent over evidence from the investigation.

Producers accepted the case and over the course of five weeks, the sheriff’s office worked with Johnny Bonds, a producer for the show who used to be a homicide investigator for the Houston Police Department. Together, they interviewed dozens of witnesses and persons of interests and used the show’s state-of-the-art lab.

“This truly was a team effort,” Ellis told the Palestine Herald-Press. “Without Cold Justice, I don’t think we could’ve progressed as we have — but they also couldn’t have done it without the LCSO staff.”

The case will be featured next year on an upcoming episode of Cold Justice, airing on Oxygen, a network spokesperson tells PEOPLE. The spokesperson says the show has contributed to 44 arrests.

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On June 27, Allbritton was indicted by a grand jury. But Ellis says the investigation is not over, telling the Herald-Press there are multiple additional avenues.

“I won’t rest,” Ellis said. “I don’t think my investigators will rest, until everyone involved in this case, and with other possible crimes related to it, are brought to justice.”

This week, authorities announced that they are investigating the death of Allbritton’s teenage daughter. In 1981, 13-year-old Pam Allbritton was shot with a rifle inside the same home where her father died. It was declared a suicide at the time but Ellis said his office is investigating whether Allbritton also murdered her daughter, KBTX reports.

“Through this investigation the suicide of her daughter has raised suspicion and we’re going to investigate that also,” Ellis said, according to the station.

No charges have been filed in Pam Allbritton’s death.

Allbritton was taken into custody but posted bail on July 3. It is unclear whether she has an attorney or has entered a plea.

Ellis asks anyone with information to call his office at 903-536-2749.

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