With 'new evidence' in cold case, police charge man in wife's 1985 murder in Catonsville

More than 30 years after Karen Ann Norton was stabbed to death in an apparent burglary at her Catonsville home, police uncovered new evidence and charged her then-husband, John Joseph Norton, in her death.

Karen Norton, 23, had just arrived home from work at JCPenney in Security Square Mall about 6:45 p.m. Dec. 17, 1985, when she was stabbed to death at her home in the 100 block of Delrey Ave.

While the initial investigation indicated the killing had been committed during a break-in by an unknown suspect, detectives reviewing the case over the years had begun to suspect that John Norton had staged his wife’s death, said officer Jennifer Peach, a Baltimore County police spokeswoman.

A grand jury indicted him last week on charges of first-degree murder and assault with intent to maim after hearing “new evidence that further supported that theory,” Peach said.

“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,” Peach said, “and this detective was able to get added information that supported the husband as the primary suspect by re-interviewing those witnesses.”

Norton was served with an arrest warrant Wednesday and is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center pending trial. No attorney was listed for him in online court records, and no family members could be reached for comment.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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