Arrest made in Pamela Pitts 1988 teen murder case; family happy

Suspect in custody was Pitts’ former roommate and already a convicted murderer

Photos of Pamela Pitts from 1988 and photos of Gordo’s Pit, now called Alto Pit.

Courtesy photos

Photos of Pamela Pitts from 1988 and photos of Gordo’s Pit, now called Alto Pit.

photo

Shelly Marie Harmon, also known as Shelly Norgard, 46

A woman has been arrested in Lyon County, Nevada, and charged in the 1988 Prescott murder of 19-year-old Pamela Pitts, according to Yavapai County Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn.

Shelly Marie Harmon, also known as Shelly Norgard, 46, was arrested in early June in Nevada and was extradited to Yavapai County on Tuesday, July 11. She was booked into the Camp Verde jail on one count of first-degree murder.

Harmon is being held on a $3 million cash-only bond.

Pitts was found dead at Gordo’s Pit, now called Alto Pit, in September 1988.

She is presumed to have been at a party on Sept. 16 at the pit, a popular spot for underage drinking.

Her burned remains were found there two weeks after her death.

The county’s medical examiner was unable to pinpoint a cause of death, due to “postmortem incineration.”

The law enforcement task force that investigated the crime found that “several people were present at the time of death and at the time the body was burned,” a Yavapai County Sheriff’s lieutenant said in October 1988. He offered immunity from prosecution to any witness not involved in the murder, but the offer did not produce results.

At the time, Harmon was named publicly and investigated as a suspect.

Harmon, 18 at the time, was one of Pitts’ two roommates in 1988.

Harmon ultimately admitted to the May 1991 fatal shooting 25-year-old Embry-Riddle student Raymond F. Clerx in Prescott. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder in June 1993.

For years, detectives could never prove their suspicions about Harmon regarding Pitts.

“During the past several months, we developed additional details linking her to that murder,” D’Evelyn said. “A YCSO detective supervisor, assisted by members of the Cold Case Unit, spent hundreds of hours re-establishing a time line of events, reviewing evidence, and conducting updated interviews involving those familiar with the circumstances at the time. As a result, probable cause was established for a murder warrant identifying Harmon as a suspect in the death of Pitts.”

Detectives are withholding specific details pending court proceedings, he added.

Family happy

Pitts’ mother, Carol, lives in Prescott Valley. She said she was “excited and happy that they were still investigating it after all these years and they were still pursuing it.”

She said the usual feeling of closure that might come with an arrest like this isn’t quite what she feels.

“I don’t know about ‘closure,’ so much,” she said. “Justice is what I’m looking at. If (Harmon) is guilty of doing it, then I think justice needs to be served.

“I’m just real grateful for the perseverance that the Sheriff … and all the detectives have done to pursue the case.”

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