UPDATE: Steve Bronson Found Incompetent To Stand Trial For Murder Of Norma Page In 1979, Is Set Free

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Normal UPDATE: Steve Bronson Found Incompetent To Stand Trial For Murder Of Norma Page In 1979, Is Set Free

Post by lisette on Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:45 pm

By Henry Pierson Curtis, Orlando Sentinel
7:40 p.m. EST, December 29, 2010

ST. CLOUD — Norma Page was murdered on the first day of summer in 1979.

One of the worst crimes in Osceola County history, the brutal killing of the 28-year-old minister's wife remained unsolved — until Wednesday, when St. Cloud police arrested Steve H. Bronson Jr. and charged him with first-degree murder.

Bronson, who is now 62 and was approached in an assisted-living home, spoke to detectives for more than four hours before admitting he had killed Page, police Chief Pete Gauntlett said.

The interview followed a 16-month cold-case investigation and decades of waiting for justice by the victim's three sisters.

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"It's wonderful," said Page's sister Kay Myers, sobbing during a phone call from her Tennessee home shortly after the 3 p.m. arrest. "I'm just releasing 31 years of years of pain. Just the fact that there is a person and he's in jail — it's a starting point."

Bronson would not comment as he was rolled in a wheelchair from St. Cloud police headquarters for a ride to the Osceola County Jail, where he would be held without bail. Until Wednesday morning, he had lived in Avante at St. Cloud, the latest in a series of nursing homes and assisted-care facilities where he was being treated for an undisclosed illness, according to police.

Apparently unable to move his left side, Bronson sat for hours in his wheelchair talking about several other unsolved killings in Osceola County before being questioned about Norma Page's murder. Those cases are being investigated by the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, the Kissimmee Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to police.

The interviews could begin as soon as tonight, depending on Bronson's health, Gauntlett said.

St. Cloud Detective Christian Anderson worked exclusively on the case for more than a year after making a promise at Page's grave in 2009 to solve her killing. It was his first homicide investigation.

"To finally give Norma Page a voice after all these years …. it's something I'll never be able to describe," Anderson said of the moment he learned the suspect's name and violent history. "It's our job as investigators to make sure the victims are never forgotten."

Bronson is a member of one of Osceola County's founding pioneer families. State records show he was on probation in Kissimmee when Page was stabbed to death 10 miles away in St. Cloud. And despite spending 20 years in the toughest prisons in Florida and California, Bronson had not been considered a suspect during the original investigation into Page's murder or another in the late 1980s, according to police.

The arrest in this 31-year-old crime is the result of a revolution in forensic science.

"Candidly, technology made this case," said Chief Gauntlett, who took command in March after serving as deputy chief of the Orlando Police Department.

Though errors hampered the original investigation, Gauntlett said evidence collected at the time was stored properly — which permitted DNA testing three decades later. Police began reviewing the old evidence in August 2009 after the victim's sisters and a cousin urged the agency to reopen the investigation.

"When they presented the case to me, the question I had of them was, 'Have we processed all of the crime-scene evidence for DNA with all of the current laboratory capabilities?' " he said. "It had never been processed, and it had never been subjected to the technology we have today."

The evidence was sent to DNA Labs International, a private company in Deerfield Beach. The results showed blood from an unidentified white male who had been standing within feet of Norma Page as she died, according to Gauntlett. The DNA profile was entered into a national DNA index system, and Steve Bronson was identified as the source, Gauntlett said.

Reached Wednesday night after Bronson's arrest, Norma Page's husband, the Rev. Jim Page, thanked St. Cloud police for their efforts to solve the case.

"And we're thankful to God that there can be closure for the family," he said.

A brutal murder in a quiet town

On the afternoon of June 21, 1979, Norma Page had finished hanging clothing behind the Church of the Nazarene parsonage — the house where the minister's family lives — on Tennessee Avenue.

She and Jim Page had two sons, Adam, 4, and 2-year-old Steve. The couple met as teenagers at Evans High School in Orlando and had been living Osceola County for four years while Jim Page ministered to his first congregation.

Far different from the 18-member staff Page now oversees as senior minister at Apopka Calvary Nazarene church in Apopka, he worked back then during the day at Walt Disney World and preached on Sundays, according to family members.

In letters to her sisters, Norma Page had written that St. Cloud reminded her of their childhood in West Virginia. Most of all, she wrote, she was excited about the church's growing congregation and raising her boys in a safe community with light traffic.

Still, she feared strangers, who sometimes knocked at the kitchen door seeking a meal. She added extra hooks on the inside of the door to keep it shut, her husband later told reporters.

She and the boys were alone June 21 while her husband was attending a church camp in Lake County. She spent the afternoon shelling butterbeans to fill the family's new freezer. And then she stopped to hang the load of wash in the backyard.

A motorist later remembered seeing a stranger follow Norma Page through the back door after she tried to close it in his face.

Once inside, police theorized, the killer and possibly an accomplice forced Norma Page and her sons to drive in the family car to Sun First National Bank. There she cashed a $213 check.

When she and her abductor returned to the home, the boys were shut in a room before the attack began. At some point, the Page boys ran to a neighbor's home, and Adam screamed that "a man with a gun was hurting their mother," according to a story the next morning in the Sentinel Star newspaper, the Orlando Sentinel's predecessor.

The St. Cloud Police Department hadn't investigated a murder in more than 20 years. Its 18 officers patrolled a town of 8,000 residents, compared with 74 officers working today in a city of 30,000 people.

The newspaper's first-day account disclosed information that would not be released by current police standards.

"The victim, who police said was in her early 20s, was found nude, lying face up on the bed, with her feet tied together and tied to the bed," according to the story published June 22. And police Chief Walt Dantzler said there was so much blood at the scene, "I don't know if she was shot or just beaten to death or both."

By the time the newspaper hit the streets of St. Cloud the next morning, Dantzler had left town for a statewide meeting of municipal officers in Key West and left an officer in charge who had never handled a murder investigation.

The chief asked psychics from the Cassadaga Spiritualists Camp to help solve the case, but he waited weeks before requesting help from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office and Kissimmee Police Department, according to news accounts and recent interviews.

"You had less than a well-trained department trying to play in the Super Bowl," former Kissimmee police Lt. Charles Cecil said of the original investigation, which ended without an arrest. "They say in 48 hours a homicide gets cold. We were past cold when we got involved in it."

Lt. Jerry Walters, sheriff's head of investigations at the time, now lives out of state. Neither he nor Cecil forgot their first impression of the killing.

"From what I remember from looking at the crime-scene photos, it was somebody who enjoyed what they were doing," Walters said. "… It takes a special kind of person to kill a mother in front of her two young children."

Coming Friday: How a family's persistence led to the reopening of Norma Page's murder case.

Sentinel researcher Susan K. Thompson contributed to this report. Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] or 407-420-5257.

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Normal Re: UPDATE: Steve Bronson Found Incompetent To Stand Trial For Murder Of Norma Page In 1979, Is Set Free

Post by lisette on Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:06 pm

By Amanda Evans, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, December 30, 2010 6:39 PM

Rev. Jim Page sat down with News 13 to discuss what the arrest means to him.

Page was at a youth camp 31 years ago when he received the call his wife had been murdered in their St. Cloud home.

But he said when he felt like he had lost everything, that's when he turned to his faith.

“Thirty-one years ago, God had given me the assurance and the promise that he would take care of me and that one day, Norma's murder would come to justice and so I got the call yesterday it was indeed the fulfillment of God's promise that he was taking care of it," Page said.

He is now a minister at the Apopka Calvary Church of the Nazarene.

Page said he nearly fell apart after his wife's murder, but knew he couldn't because he had to raise their two sons.

He said his faith and two sons have kept him going all these years.

News 13 and cfnews13.com will have more from Page tonight at 10 p.m., including why at one point he asked police officers to stop calling him about the investigation.

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Normal Re: UPDATE: Steve Bronson Found Incompetent To Stand Trial For Murder Of Norma Page In 1979, Is Set Free

Post by lisette on Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:11 pm

Norma Page murder: Steve Bronson attacked after she gave him water, chief says
"The Bible says, 'Just give a cup of water in my name,' and she did that and that cost her life," Page's sister said.

ST. CLOUD — Kay Myers drove all night to thank St. Cloud police for solving her sister Norma Page's 1979 murder.

Overcome by exhaustion and emotion, Myers spoke of her family's 31-year-vigil for justice.

"I stand here just representing my sister Norma," Myers said at St. Cloud City Hall on Thursday, the morning after the arrest of Steve Bronson Jr. on a charge of first-degree murder. "We drove all night from Nashville not knowing why… I just felt I needed to be here today. This is where her heart is."

Myers is one of three surviving sisters of Norma Page who lobbied St. Cloud police for decades to continue investigating and solve her murder. The contributions by the sisters and a cousin were acknowledged by Police Chief Peter Gauntlett.

"As a result of a letter Kay had sent us in August of last year" the case was reviewed and pursued as a cold-case investigation using the latest developments in DNA analysis, he said at a news conference. "Kay kept copious notes over the years…This story had already been written. This was just the last chapter."

Gauntlett also acknowledged that the case would not have been solved without improved DNA analysis and testing by DNA Labs International, a private lab in Deerfield Beach, and the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"Mr. Bronson was never on our radar," he said of the original investigation. "So for 31 years he was not on anyone's radar."

Bronson, a Kissimmee resident, served about 20 years in some of the toughest prisons in Florida and California for a series of violent crimes and escape.

Page was likely tortured before death

At the time of Norma Page's killing he had been released on probation and was living in Kissimmee, about 10 miles from St. Cloud.

The evidence that led to the arrest of Bronson, 62, included three separate splashes of his blood after he cut himself while repeatedly striking Norma Page in the head with a glass Del Monte ketchup bottle that shattered during the attack, according to an arrest affidavit released Thursday.

During an interview Wednesday with St. Cloud detectives, Bronson said he attacked Norma Page after first seeing her watering the lawn of her home, once a parsonage for the Church of the Nazarene on Tennessee Avenue, according to Gauntlett.

Bronson said he asked the 28-year-old minister's wife for a glass of water and then overpowered her.

The arrest affidavit states that she was tied to her bed, stripped and stabbed 34 times. Those injuries included multiple superficial slices on the left side of her neck that were described as signs she likely had been tortured and taunted before she died.

Bronson's blood was found inside the victim's blue-and-white swimming suit top that had been stripped from her body and discarded in a nearby bathroom.

Other samples of his blood were found on a toddler's shirt found on the floor of the children's bedroom where Norma Page died.

A third specimen was found on a bloody towel dropped outside the parsonage, according to the affidavit.

'It was like her to give'

Myers was shocked to learn her sister was attacked after she was asked for a glass of water.

"It was like her to give. She was compassionate. She was a mother of young children," Myers said. "The Bible says, 'Just give a cup of water in my name,' and she did that and that cost her life."

Myers and the rest of her extended family belong to the Nazarene Church. Her husband, Jack Myers, runs Music City Mission, a homeless shelter in Nashville.

Her mother, Nola Thomas, died last October at 95 from Alzheimer's. She continued to ask about her long-dead daughter before she died.

"To the end, she'd occasionally look up and say, 'Where's Norma? Where's Norma? Why didn't she come to see me," Myers said. "I feel she was hanging on for this day."

Rev. Jim Page and his sons, Adam and Steve, did not attend the news conference. Page, who serves as senior minister of Apopka Calvary Church of the Nazarene, thanked St. Cloud police for their efforts in a statement Wednesday evening.

Bronson remained held Thursday under guard at an undisclosed hospital in Osceola County.

After being arrested and charged with first-degree murder Wednesday afternoon, Bronson complained of chest pains when being driven to the Osceola County Jail in a county Corrections van, according to interviews.

Bronson has an undisclosed medical history and has lived for years in a series of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, according to police.

Authorities are looking at Bronson for other crimes

Bronson is the focus of at least two more murder investigations, according to interviews Thursday with Kissimmee police and the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

He is a person of interest in the unsolved killing in August 1995 of Maria Ferreira, a 20-year-old Massachusetts woman whose body was found on railroad tracks near downtown Kissimmee, said Kissimmee Police Capt. James Napier.

Ferreira stayed in the same crack house where Bronson lived at the time near the corner of Brack and Cypress streets on the city's northside. "He is cooperating with our investigation," Napier said.

The other case is the 1989 killing of Bertha Hemminghaus, a 79-year-old widow who had been living at Good Samaritan Village, a retirement community south of Kissimmee, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain.

Bronson was a "person of interest" at the time of the killing and is being looked at again, she said. Detectives from the sheriff's office and Kissimmee police will interview Bronson as his health permits, according to interviews.

Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at 407-420-5257 or [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].

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Normal Re: UPDATE: Steve Bronson Found Incompetent To Stand Trial For Murder Of Norma Page In 1979, Is Set Free

Post by Guest on Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:16 am

Wow lisette. What a great story. Justice after 31 years. He is suffering and ready to confess his crimes. I bet he is hoping for the death penalty. So maybe just the rest of his life in prison would be better in this case than helping him end his suffering.

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Normal UPDATE: Steve Bronson Found Incompetent To Stand Trial For Murder Of Norma Page In 1979, Is Set Free

Post by NiteSpinR on Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:42 am

June 4, 2011
Circuit Judge Scott Polodna ordered him placed in DCF care for likely lifetime placement.

The Norma Page murder case ended without a verdict Friday, when Steve Bronson was declared incompetent to stand trial for the 1979 murder.

But Page's eldest son, Adam Page, stared down the man accused of killing his mother and recounted tiny details of what happened in the parsonage of a St. Cloud church 32 years ago.

"I remember every minute of that afternoon," 36-year-old Page said from the witness stand in Osceola Circuit Court. "I remember you coming in and pointing your gun at my brother and I."
Speaking quietly, Page talked about how hot sand had burned their feet when they were abducted along with their mother. He mentioned how neither he nor his brother like riding in cars with strangers. And how he used the memory of Bronson to motivate him through trying times, so he could eventually track him down.
"I've moved on," he said as 63-year-old Bronson, crippled by a stroke in 2003, listened impassively from a hospital-style gurney in the courtroom. "I trust God. It's in his hands."
Before finishing, Page added, "You're a coward."

His statements came after more than an hour of expert testimony and legal arguments on the level of mental capacity needed for Bronson to get a fair trial.

None of the experts who examined Bronson, including two selected by the prosecution, thought he could adequately assist his defense or withstand the rigors of a prolonged trial. Only one thought rehabilitation provided the slightest chance of recovery.
"There is really nothing to be done," said neurological psychologist Eric Mings of Orlando. "I don't anticipate any recovery."
Mings and other experts retained by Orange-Osceola Public Defender Robert Wesley said that Bronson sometimes gave the appearance of lucidity but would claim that he recently rode broncos in Kissimmee's Silver Spurs Rodeo, walked 12 miles a day and went bear hunting — despite being bed-bound by left-sided paralysis.

In ruling Bronson incompetent to stand trial, Circuit Judge Scott Polodna first commented that he knew "justice delayed is justice denied" and that he did not understand why it took 30 years to identify and arrest Bronson.

Polodna denied Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Lewis' request to send Bronson to a state hospital for six months of observation and possible rehabilitation. He ordered Bronson to be turned over to the state Department of Children and Families for placement in a hospital or nursing facility within 15 days.

Page's death on the first day of summer in 1979 shocked St. Cloud, where police hadn't investigated a murder in more than 20 years. The killer abducted Page and her children from the Church of the Nazarene parsonage where they lived and drove them to a bank, where Page cashed two checks.

After returning to the house on Tennessee Avenue, the killer shut the children in one room and then attacked the minister's wife. At some point, the children were able to alert neighbors that a man with a gun was hurting their mother.

Page's three sisters and a cousin, who sat side by side during Friday's hearing, spent 30 years lobbying St. Cloud police to reopen the murder investigation, which folded without an arrest in the early 1980s.

With cousin Cheryl Hickman's help, the sisters compiled decades of notes about the case and presented them to the Police Department in the summer of 2009.

Also attending the hearing with Adam Page were his brother, Steve, their wives, and their father, the Rev. Jim Page, and their stepmother, JoAnne.

The original investigation never involved Bronson, who was on parole for a violent sex crime and living in Kissimmee at the time of the murder. Court and police records show he fled Florida about a month after the killing and was sent back to prison for leaving Osceola without permission.

In 2010, testing of blood found on Page's torn clothing in 1979 showed it contained Bronson's DNA. He subsequently confessed to the killing and provided details of the stabbing never previously released to the public, police said.

Sister Kay Myers, who spoke for the sisters at the hearing, took the stand after Polodna ruled theywould never hear a guilty verdict.
Speaking first about the family joys Norma missed by being killed at age 28, Myers looked across 30 feet separating her from Bronson's gurney and said, "You're an animal, and you need to be caged."

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Normal Re: UPDATE: Steve Bronson Found Incompetent To Stand Trial For Murder Of Norma Page In 1979, Is Set Free

Post by Wrapitup on Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:23 am


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