Sister’s wish for justice prompts website

James Norris.

Overlooking the landscape of the Suisun Valley in California, Rosemary Southward spends every day sitting next to her brother’s final resting place, admiring the view and wondering when she will finally see his killer behind bars.

It was 37 years ago when James “Jimmy” Norris II flew from California to Miami with $12,000 in cash and a plan to buy Colombian marijuana.

He was supposed to meet a friend of a friend who was going to connect him with some drug dealers in Citrus County. However, the last his family ever heard from him was when they received a postcard postmarked Oct. 4, 1974, from Inglis.

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There has been no shortage of twist and turns or even miracles, Southward said. What began as a search for her missing brother years ago turned into a full-blown murder investigation after remains found in 1976 in Dixie County were positively matched last year to her mother’s DNA that was on file with the California Department of Justice — a revelation she never saw coming.

“It’s been a real challenge adjusting to the reality of the situation,” she said. 

After spending so many years being the driving force behind the search for her brother, Southward said she has found it difficult to step back and allow the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office to conduct their investigation, leaving her with the overwhelming task of re-focusing her energy.

Therefore, after deciding she wanted to tell her brother’s story from the family’s perspective, Southward recently launched a website recalling — in detail — the emotions, thoughts and facts that surround her brother’s case. She especially wanted to share how the ordeal affected her mother, who died in March 2007.

It is her hope the website might help push people to come forward with information about her brother’s case and even help garner some national exposure.

“Maybe if someone knew how devastating it was, maybe they will make a call,” she said.

FDLE Special Agent Mike Kennedy said late last week that the investigation is still active and moving along well.

“We’re developing additional leads and information and moving forward,” he said. “We’re pleased with the progress.”

But Southward said any more information or tips can only help push things along even further. She said she knows there are people out there who know what happened and hopes they will find it in their hearts to call, even if they don’t think what they know is important.

“No matter how small, who knows? It can fit in the piece of the puzzle,” she said

For her, it’s not a matter of if a suspect is found; it’s a matter of when. She is confident detectives will solve her brother’s case and her family will finally have the closure they’ve been seeking for more than 30 years.

“I do really feel they are going to find who’s responsible,” she said. “I just know it. It’s just a matter of time.”

To read about the case, visit http://www.whokilledjamesnorris.com

If anyone has information about this case, call FDLE Special Agent Mike Kennedy at (850) 410-7450.

Chronicle reporter Shemir Wiles can be reached at (352) 564-2924 or swiles@chronicleonline.com.