SBI cold case team solves Beaufort County murder after nearly four decades

RALEIGH N.C. (WITN) – The SBI’s cold case investigation team says that they have solved a nearly four-decades-old murder that happened in Beaufort County.

According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Joseph Russell, a Marine stationed at New River Air Station in Jacksonville, was found dead on December 27, 1984 alongside NC Highway 171 near a swamp.

Deputies say Russell had been hit with a hammer and stabbed several times.

Earlier this year a retired officer from the Raleigh Police Department who is now a Special Investigator for the SBI’s Cold Case Investigation Team began looking into the case.

The SBI says that during the new investigation, new information about insurance money surfaced.

Investigators say that Russell’s wife, Flora Russell, had taken out a life insurance policy on him shortly before he was murdered.

After reviewing the newly discovered evidence with all of the prior evidence in the case, investigators now say that Flora Russell, who is now deceased, planned the murder of her husband and that her boyfriend, Clifton Tydings who is also deceased, murdered Joseph Russell.

In November the Beaufort County District Attorney said that there was enough probable cause for the arrest and prosecution of both Tydings and Flora Russell for the murder of Joseph Russell, if they were still alive today.

Investigators say that the new information was shared with Russell’s daughter who was a baby at the time of his murder. They said she is grateful that investigators never gave up and says this has given her a measure of peace and closure this Christmas season.

The case was closed in November at the request of the District Attorney.

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