James Norris’ murder remains unsolved after 48 years
FDLE agents continue to pursue leads in the 1974 homicide of 24-year-old James Norris. The case is believed to be one of the oldest active homicide cases in Florida and is Dixie County’s oldest case.
Investigators believe persons living in Citrus County, Panama City and Miami may have information that could help solve this case.
If you have information about the murder of James Norris, please contact FDLE Tallahassee at (800) 342-0820.
On the morning of October 4, 1974, San Francisco, California resident James Norris arrived on a commercial flight to Miami, Florida. He was traveling under the alias Richard Gunning.
Norris was carrying a large amount of cash with the intention of purchasing Columbian-grade marijuana that was not in California.
That afternoon, Norris mailed a postcard to his family from Inglis, Florida, in Levy County on the border with Citrus County. That was the last contact his family had with him.
On April 16, 1976, a bulldozer operator cutting through the woods off of U.S. Highway 19 in northern Dixie County near the Taylor County line came upon skeletal remains.
The remains were unidentified until FDLE Special Agent (now Special Agent Supervisor) David Wilson recognized that recent advances in DNA testing might yield some positive results. Because of the age of the remains, FDLE’s forensic scientists recommended that they be sent to the University of North Texas (UNT) for testing. In 2010, UNT was able to obtain a DNA profile but it was not enough to enter into CODIS.
The results were given to FDLE Special Agent (now Special Agent Supervisor) Mike Kennedy with the recommendation from UNT that the case be entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS). NamUS provides technology, forensic services and investigative support to resolve missing person and unidentified remains cases.
Reviewing the NamUS website’s Missing Persons section, Agent Kennedy observed that James Norris was listed as missing in Florida approximately 18 months and 100 miles from where the skeletal remains were discovered. Additionally, NamUS noted that Norris’ family had placed their DNA on file with the California Department of Justice (DOJ) for use as a comparison.
Agent Kennedy requested that the DNA profiles with the California DOJ be sent to UNT for comparison. The University confirmed that the remains were James Norris, and an active homicide investigation was initiated. In April 2011, Norris’ family members flew to Florida to claim his remains.
The investigation shows that Norris traveled to Citrus County, Florida to purchase marijuana from an organization operating in that county. The investigation has uncovered the names of members of that organization.
The Norris family has established a website, www.whokilledjamesnorris.com, which talks about the search for their loved one.