Anna Mae Florence Murder: Where is Zina Roberson Now?

In 1987, when Anna Mae Florence’s sister and brother-in-law knocked on her door, they were shocked to see a woman covered in blood running out of the house. As she fled, Anna Mae’s brother-in-law attempted to restrain her, but she managed to break free. Upon entering the home, Anna Mae’s sister found the place in disarray, with furniture overturned and Anna Mae dead. A&E’s ‘Cold Case Files’ episode ‘A Killer Slips Away’ delves into the details of the murder and the extensive investigation that spanned years.

Anna Mae Florence Was Stabbed to Death in Her Home

Anna Mae Cook Florence was born in Alabama on August 17, 1907. Her parents, Henry and Fanny Cook, raised Anna and her three siblings with the utmost love, but it was a different time and era marked by prominent racial segregation and the active presence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Anna spent most of her life in Alabama, marrying Aubrey Florence in 1928 and enjoying many blissful years together. After her husband’s passing in 1973, Anna’s brother invited her to move closer to the family in Columbus, Ohio.

Anna established a small home for herself in Franklin County, Ohio, close to her siblings, and quickly became the favorite aunt of her nieces and nephews. She spent her days cooking, tending to her garden, and spending time with her family, anticipating pleasant years ahead in her old age. On June 26, 1987, Anna’s sister and brother-in-law planned to visit her at her house to go shopping together. However, when they rang her doorbell, it took some time for the door to open, and when it did, a young woman ran out of the house.

The woman was covered in blood, and Anna’s brother-in-law tried to catch her, but she managed to wriggle free and run away. Panicked about what awaited them inside, they made their way inwards and found 79-year-old Anna bleeding to death on the floor. The entire house had been turned upside down, indicating a violent struggle. Before her family could take her to the hospital, Anna had succumbed to stab wounds to her heart from a steak knife. From then on, her siblings were determined to find out who had committed the murder and bring them to justice.

Anna Mae Florence’s Killer Left a Partial Bloody Fingerprint Behind

The police immediately launched a homicide investigation into Anna Mae Florence’s murder. Given that a suspect had been seen fleeing the crime scene, they were hopeful she would be apprehended quickly. The police conducted a thorough search of the house and collected all the evidence they believed the perpetrator had touched. Items from the kitchen, living room, and the murder weapon—a steak knife—were taken into possession, but no fingerprints were recovered. However, they did find a partial bloody print on one of the walls, believed to be from the suspect. This partial print was the only forensic evidence available due to the technological limitations of the time.

A few weeks into the investigation, the police received an anonymous tip from a man who claimed that a woman named Danita had confessed to the murder. Reluctantly, the informant revealed his name was Odell. The police identified Danita and brought her in for questioning. However, when they ran her fingerprints, they did not match the partial print at the crime scene. Without a match, they had to release her. As the leads dried up, the case gradually turned cold. Anna’s family was not ready to give up and kept checking in with the police periodically. In 2011, a new detective took their call and sounded optimistic about the case.

The detective informed the family that she would relaunch the investigation and re-examine the evidence. With advanced forensic techniques, she could find a full fingerprint on a mayonnaise jar collected from the crime scene. When it came time to match the fingerprints with known suspects, she knew she had to locate the informant, Odell. When the detective located Odell and questioned him, he denied ever being an informant for the police. However, when he was presented with the cassette tapes, he revealed that his cousin, Chris, had made the tip. Odell explained that he did not know how to read or write then and had asked Chris to fill out his unemployment benefits form.

Odell suspected that Chris might have the information to assume his identity and had testified about the crime. The police traced Chris, and he was ready to tell the truth this time. He admitted that the information he had provided earlier was incorrect. Chris detailed that on the day of the murder, he had met a woman named Zina Roberson, who confessed to killing Anna Mae. Zina had been going around the neighborhood trying to collect money to pay off debts to local drug dealers. Desperate and seeing Anna alone in the house, Zina saw an opportunity and entered the house intending to steal some money. However, things quickly escalated, resulting in a violent scuffle. Anna brought out a knife, but Zina ended up using it to kill her.

Zina Roberson is in an Ohio State Prison Today

The police were able to locate Zina Roberson in Rome, Georgia. When they knocked on her door, she complied without resistance. Since the murder, she had only a shoplifting charge from 1999 on her record and had otherwise kept a low profile. Zina was indicted on charges of aggravated murder, and the presence of her fingerprints inside Anna Mae Florence’s house left little doubt about her guilt. She opted to plead guilty to a lesser charge of murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 15 years. She is incarcerated at the Dayton Correctional Institution, with her parole hearing scheduled for June 2029.

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