FDLE believes someone in South Florida may have information about 1974 cold case

Police: James Norris, 24, killed after traveling to Florida to buy large amount of marijuana

James Norris was last heard from on Oct. 4, 1974, after traveling to South Florida from San Francisco. (Crime Stoppers)

MIAMI – Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement continue to search for the killer or killers of James Norris, 24, whose life was taken 47 years ago, and they believe there are people living in Miami, Panama City and Citrus County who have information that could help finally solve this case.

Authorities say this is one of the oldest active homicide cases in Florida and is the oldest in Dixie County.

According to authorities, Norris, who was from San Francisco, flew to Miami the morning of Oct. 4, 1974, traveling under the alias Richard Gunning.

Police said Norris then traveled to Citrus County to purchase a large amount of Colombian-grade marijuana from an “organization” as that specific type of marijuana was not available in California at the time.

“This area was a smuggler’s paradise back then: the Levy, Dixie and Taylor County coastline was largely unpoliced, partly due to the remoteness of the location but also because the pervasiveness of corruption in local government and law enforcement facilitated the operations of an enormously lucrative criminal industry,” one of Norris’ siblings stated on a website that was set up after his disappearance. “In short, it was the Wild, Wild West of the Eastern US. In 1973 the biggest marijuana bust in US history at the time - 9 tons - went down just miles from where Jimmy was murdered.”

The FDLE says their investigation uncovered the names of members of the organization that Norris allegedly bought the drugs from, but no arrests have been made.

Authorities said Norris mailed a postcard to his family from Inglis, Florida, the afternoon that he arrived in Florida, and that was the last contact his family ever had with him.

According to authorities, a bulldozer operator came upon skeletal remains on April 16, 1976, while cutting through woods off U.S. Highway 19 in northern Dixie County.

Advances in DNA finally allowed authorities to identify those remains in 2011 as those of Norris.

The Norris family has also created a Facebook page with more information about Norris’ murder.

Anyone with information is asked to call FDLE Tallahassee at 800-342-0820.


About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.