New details on man suspected of killing Esme Barrera



Posted on January 27, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 27 at 10:20 PM

AUSTIN -- A decorated Navy sailor is linked to the homicide of an Austin teacher's assistant and six other violent attacks against women.

James Loren Brown, Jr., 25, is the prime suspect in the death of 29-year-old teaching assistant Esme Barrera. That's something that surprises people who live near his apartment in Central Austin.

Jordan Holder lived above him.

"Just a little shook up, I think. I mean, we still don't go out at night by ourselves, and we're just taking precautions for now at least," said Holder.

Through DNA, Brown has been linked to five attacks on women near Ladybird Lake. Police believe there could be more victims.

"We are going back to see if there any cases we might have missed," said Lt. Michael Eveleth with the Austin Police Department.

APD's investigation could be challenging because Brown committed suicide. Brown's roommate discovered his body inside their apartment on Jan. 12. Investigators are not releasing the manner of death. They are questioning his roommate, who is not a suspect.

"There are items out there we need to locate. I don't know if he would have destroyed them, threw them out, or gave them away. So if anybody did receive any items from him, specifically electronic items," said Lt. Eveleth.

James Brown, Jr., originally from Dallas, spent five years in the Navy. He was discharged in 2010 when he moved to Austin and began working at IHOP. One of his co-workers described him as a nice guy, but police describe a different person. They say he had an anger problem and directed his anger at women.

"I do know we're looking at a lot of anger, obviously anger toward women, because all of his assaults were on women," said Lt. Eveleth.

The Navy will not say why Brown was discharged or whether he had discipline problems. They did say he was awarded three honors, including assisting on a terrorism mission.

Austin police say they will dig into his background, but their top priority is solving the death of Esme Barrera.

"What we want to do is be able to link him through forensics to that scene," said Lt. Eveleth.

Police say Brown matched the suspect sketch, he used the same Modus operandi on all his victims, and now they're waiting on DNA crime lab results. Investigators say it could take weeks.