PHOENIX — A woman who served a prison sentence in the 1990s for the murder of her boyfriend in Prescott now has been arrested in connection with the 1988 death of her female roommate, authorities said Thursday.
Yavapai County Sheriff’s officials said Shelly Norgard was arrested in Nevada last month and booked into an Arizona jail on suspicion of one count of premeditated murder for the death of 19-year-old Pamela Pitts of Prescott.
Norgard, 46, is being held on a $3 million cash-only bond at the Camp Verde Detention Center.
Dwane Cates, an attorney for Norgard, said Thursday that his client would enter a not guilty plea at her July 17 arraignment in Yavapai County Superior Court.
In 1993, Norgard was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted for second-degree murder in the death of her boyfriend Ray Clerx.
Clerx, who was 24 at the time, was fatally shot in May 1991. Norgard was released from prison in May 2011.
Clerx’s brother Ben Clerx said his family wanted to push for a life sentence, but the prosecutor convinced them a 20-year sentence was the best guaranteed deal.
“It seemed like a long time, but once it’s over it’s like, ‘She’s out already?'” he said.
Sheriffs’ office officials say Pitts was last seen at a party in a forest near Prescott on Sept. 16, 1988. Her burned body was found almost two weeks later.
Clerx’s mother Connie Clerx seemed surprised when she heard Norgard was arrested for Pitts’ murder decades later.
“This has been a big thing our whole lives,” she said, crying. “We’d like to know that whoever was involved gets it.”
Investigators won’t disclose a motive in the killing to avoid interference with upcoming court proceedings, according to sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn.
The medical examiner wasn’t able to determine Pitts’ cause of death in part because of the extensive damage to her body, D’Evelyn said. He instead described Pitts’ death as “probable homicide.”
Norgard was named a person of interest at the time, but investigators didn’t have enough evidence to tie her to the death, and the case went cold, D’Evelyn said.
Cates said he’s skeptical the prosecution has fresh information.
“I haven’t seen the evidence, but it’s a 30-year-old case,” Cates said. “I don’t think they have anything new.”
D’Evelyn said investigators recently worked with members of the county’s Cold Case Unit to construct a timeline of events based on information from past interviews. Investigators then tracked down people familiar with Pitts and Norgard to conduct another round of interviews.
Court records show a judge issued an arrest warrant for Norgard on the same day she was indicted.
Nogard was arrested June 5 in Nevada before being extradited to Arizona six days later, D’Evelyn said.