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LC Sheriff’s Dept Looking into Unsolved Murder after 30 Years

Johnnie E. Allbritton

Last Wednesday, May 14 marked the 30-year anniversary of the bizarre unsolved murder of a beloved Leon County citizen, the late Johnnie E. Allbritton of Buffalo.

It was Mothers? Day, 1984 when Judy Allbritton Robinson and her family said goodbye to her father on the porch of his home, never to see him alive again. Every Mothers? Day brings the scene back to life for this family, haunted by the knowledge that the murder has never been solved.

This year there may be a small light at the end of a dark tunnel after a phone call to the Leon County Sheriff?s Office, namely Brent K. Walter, LC Chief Deputy.

?I am going to attempt to locate all the files regarding this case. If enough of the case is located I will present this case to the Sheriff?s Association of Texas Cold Case Review Team in hopes of solving this case. It would be nice to bring closure to the family of Mr. Allbritton,? stated Chief Deputy Walter.

According to reports published during the initial murder investigation, an autopsy revealed that Allbritton (age 64) was shot five times, twice in the chest and three times in the back with his own 20 gauge shotgun. The murder occurred May 14, 1984 the day after Mother?s Day inside the family home located three miles south of Buffalo off Highway 75.

This is the same house where Allbritton?s13-year-old daughter, Pam reportedly died by gunshot three years earlier in January 1981 and where Norma, Allbritton?s wife of 18 years,reportedly accidently shot herself and was seriously wounded on May 30, 1984, two weeks after the murder.

According to family members, Pam?s death in 1981 was ruled a suicide.

According to newspaper reports, Norma Allbritton (then age 49) described how she was accidentally wounded in the chest when a .410 shotgun discharged after she dropped it one morning two weeks following her husband?s death.

According to family members, the shooting happened immediately before she was scheduled for a lie detector test regarding the murder. One newspaper report said Mrs. Allbritton reported to Sheriff Wilson that she lay on the floor until her son, Randy Clinkscales found her.

During the murder investigation, Leon County Sheriff, the late Royce Wilson was quoted as saying he believed Mr. Allbritton entered the house through the patio door at the back while a burglary was in progress. One newspaper account said Sheriff Wilson ?speculated? Mr. Allbritton ?may have known the burglar or burglars and may have been shot to death to avoid identification?.

That afternoon, Allbritton had failed to pick his son up from school and the boy?s elementary teacher brought him to the family store. When Jamie was dropped off at home, he found the doors ajar but reportedly did not go all the way into the house at the time. A source close to the investigation told the Express that Allbritton?s body was found by a sheriff?s deputy answering a 911 burglary call. Allbritton was found near the back of the house next to a patio door. The murder weapon was in the room, along with several other shotguns and a rifle.

According to the victim?s daughter, Judy Allbritton Robinson, there was no evidence of forced entry into the home and no identifiable fingerprints other than those of family members.

A former officer involved in the 1984 investigation, who chose not to be identified, told the Express that several other guns were piled on a blanket inside the open patio door giving the appearance of an attempted robbery. He said there were also five spent shells from one of the shotguns.

The case has never been solved.

Johnnie E. Allbritton was a local rancher and the owner/operator of Allbritton?s Grocery, which later became Gilliam?s. He was the father of sons Jerry, Larry, and James Allbritton and daughters Johnnie Mae Clark, Judy Robinson and the late Pam Allbritton.

Judy Robinson cherishes the memory of her father.

?My father was well respected in the community and had no enemies other than the ones who took his life,? said Judy. ?I want my father to rest in peace, and we continue to hope that justice will be done.?

According to former Leon County Sheriff Mike Price, who we interviewed for an article 10 years ago at the 20th anniversary of the murder, he and his investigator looked into the case when Price first took office and found no fresh leads and no way to go forward.

?What we found was circumstantial evidence only,? said Price. ?The case is not closed as there is no statute of limitations on unsolved murder cases. We can always move on new evidence,? said Price.

Recent inquiries to the office of Leon County Sheriff Kevin Ellis have sparked an interest to attempt to reopen the case.