84-Year-Old Texas Widow Arrested in Husband's Murder 35 Years Later

Johnnie Allbritton was shot to death in his home in 1984. His widow has been arrested.
Johnnie Allbritton was killed in 1984. His widow, Norma Allbritton, was arrested earlier this month.Handout/Leon County Sheriff's Office

The elderly widow had long been the main suspect in her husband's murder, officials said.

An elderly woman in Texas has been arrested for the 35-year-old murder of her husband, who was shot five times as he walked through the patio door of his own home, authorities said. 

Norma Allbritton, 84, was arrested July 1 on first-degree murder charges and booked into the Leon County Jail, according to online records. She was released July 3 after posting $50,000 bail.

Sheriff Kevin Ellis said the arrest followed a joint investigation between his office and the cable TV show "Cold Justice," which examines old, unsolved crimes. 

He did not say what evidence led to the woman's arrest. 

The Oxygen network show provided a retired Houston homicide detective to assist the sheriff's office, which reopened the unsolved murder case four years ago. Ellis digitized the case files and evidence folders and sent them off to the show's producers, who agreed to investigate the shooting.

Johnnie Allbritton, who was 64 when he was killed, was a well-known rancher who ran a local grocery. On May 14, 1984, Johnnie was shot twice in the chest and three times in the back with his 20-gauge shotgun. At the time, authorities thought Johnnie had walked into a burglary in progress at his house. Investigators found a blanket piled with guns and rifles, looking as if they were being dragged from the home, deputies said. 

No one was ever arrested or charged in the killing.

Norma was supposed to take a lie detector test two weeks after her husband was killed. But she told authorities she was seriously injured by a shotgun round that entered her chest after she accidentally dropped the weapon. The polygraph was never rescheduled, authorities said. 

The Leon County Sheriff's Office is also re-examining the death of the couple's 13-year-old daughter, Pamela, whose 1981 shooting death was ruled a homicide. 

"I won't rest," said Ellis, according to the Palestine Herald-Press. "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."