Cold Case 2014: Medical Examiner Makes Sinister Discovery in Elderly Woman's Case - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Cold Case Files

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Cold Case 2014: Medical Examiner Makes Sinister Discovery in Elderly Woman's Case

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cold Case 2014: Elderly Woman Strangled at Joppee Home

    Atreall Campbell, 82, was found dead on her living room floor in November 2014, and her killer has not been found. (Published Friday, March 10, 2017)

    Atreall Campbell was found dead on her living room floor back in November 2014. At first it appeared that the 82-year-old died of natural causes, until the medical examiner determined something much more sinister. She died of manual strangulation.

    Joppee is one of the last remaining freedman's towns in Texas. It's located less than 10 miles from downtown Dallas. Campbell and her family called the historic settlement home for more than a half century.

    Campbell quickly became known for her Southern home cooking, and her niece, Mariam Matthews-Fields, holds dear a red jar filled with her aunt's culinary diary. It's one of only a few sentiments left.

    "My daughter came in, and it was dark in the house, and hollered out for Auntie, and I said maybe she's still at church?" Matthews-Fields said.

    Campbell was considered the matriarch of her Joppee Baptist church. She was an honorary usher who never missed a morning on the prayer line and certainly never a daily phone call to her sister, Hester Johnson.

    "When I didn't hear from her on my birthday, I knew that something had happened and I kept calling and kept calling," said Johnson.

    It was Nov. 7, 2014.

    Campbell was found dead on the living room floor.

    "She died with her hands in the air. We're thinking, God she died praising the Lord," said Matthews-Fields.

    Sadly, her hands were in the air for a very different reason.

    Dallas police say Campbell was strangled. She died trying to defend herself.

    "We couldn't believe it. We were all in disbelief that who would do this," said Matthews-Fields.

    Campbell was last seen alive on Nov. 4. It was Election Day, and she was voting at her church. Her death sent shock waves through the community, especially after it was ruled a homicide.

    Dallas Police Detective Michael Yeric opened Campbell's case file for NBC 5, which contains crime scene reports and witness statements. One of those statements was from from her live-in nephew who was almost immediately named a person of interest. That man was interviewed and eventually released.

    The case then went cold.

    "The physical evidence we've exhausted," said Yeric. "We're just hoping for some sort of break in the case."

    It would be a break Campbell's family is desperate to see. They're hopeful for an ending to that dark secret in Joppee.

    "You have not gotten away with this. You will not get away with this, and justice will be served for Atreall Campbell," said Matthews-Fields.

    Dallas police are asking anyone with information in the 2014 murder case to come forward. Tips can be anonymous.

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