Faith comforting family of slain 80-year-old Sanford woman

North Carolina
Norma Jean Brown

The son and daughter-in-law of an 80-year-old Sanford, N.C. woman allegedly killed in her home by a man asking her for money are sharing their story of shock and grief. 

Richard “Peanut” Smith described his mother, Norma Jean Brown, as “a good, strong, old-school Christian woman.” She read her Bible every day, went to church every Sunday, and passed her strong faith on to her family. 

Smith said he called her before church every Sunday morning. As usual, he spoke to her March 3 and he’ll forever be grateful for that.

“I did get to tell my mama I love her one more time,” he said.

Later that night, another phone call changed everything. 

“It’s an evening that I relive every Sunday evening,” said Smith’s wife Carolyn, who had to tell her husband the awful news. “I said, ‘Peanut, someone has killed your mother.'” 

Police say Kenneth Allen went to Brown’s home to ask for money. When she refused, investigators say he murdered her.

While Brown didn’t know him personally, the Smiths have known his family for decades.  

“He sat beside me in church five weeks prior to that,” Smith recalled. “I want him to feel the pain that I’m feeling. I really do.”  

Through their pain, the Smiths take comfort in their faith — the same faith that guided Brown every day of her life.

“I know she’s in a better place,” Smith said.


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