Retired Navy veteran accused of killing girl found on lawn of Charlotte church

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 11:56 PM

Eric Brown, left, was arrested and charged with the murder of Ashanti  Billie.
WSOCTV.com
Eric Brown, left, was arrested and charged with the murder of Ashanti Billie.(WSOCTV.com)

A retired Navy veteran was arrested Wednesday in connection with the murder of Ashanti Billie, 19, whose body was found on the lawn of a church in northwest Charlotte in September.

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Eric Brown, 45, is suspected of having abducted Billie, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Sept. 18 as she arrived for work at a Blimpie’s restaurant on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach, according to court documents.

Brown has been charged with murder and kidnapping. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police also charged Brown with murder.

Brown was first arrested for separate charges in Virginia last month before detectives linked him to Billie’s death, officials said.

Charlotte resident Warren Stukes said that his children grew up with Brown and he was shocked at the age of the woman he is accused of murdering.

"Nineteen? That's even worse," Stukes said. “That's a young girl who has not lived her life. He lived his life."

On Sept. 29, Billie’s body was found in a wooded area behind East Stonewall AME Zion Church about 300 yards from Brown’s childhood home.

Police said Billie was the subject of a missing persons investigation in Norfolk, Virginia. She had been missing since Sept. 18.

"She was happy here,” Ashanti Billie’s mother, Brandy Billie, said about Virginia Beach. “She liked it here and to think this is where it ended for her."

Brown, who spent 21 years in the Navy, worked as a day laborer and helped with the construction of the Blimpie’s this past summer.

Brown was homeless and lived in random facilities and buildings on and off the naval bases, police said.

Billie’s coworkers said that Brown would visit the Blimpie’s almost every day, and that he was seen so often in the neighboring buildings, that they believed Brown worked there.

Video surveillance recorded Billie’s car entering the base at 4:58 a.m. Sept. 18 and circling the Blimpie’s at 5 a.m.

The driver of the vehicle in both videos was a person wearing dark-colored clothing, consistent with the clothing Billie was reportedly wearing.

Video surveillance recorded a person in light-colored clothing in Billie’s car driving out of the base at about 5:33 a.m.

At about 5:44 a.m., residential video surveillance recorded a person wearing light-colored clothing, driving a car consistent with Billie’s, stop at a construction dumpster in Norfolk.

A few hours later, construction workers found Billie’s cellphone in the dumpster.

Billie’s car was found in Norfolk on Sept. 23.

Inside the car, agents recovered Billie’s pants, which contained dirt and debris. The undercarriage of the car also contained dirt and vegetative debris.

Several witnesses described seeing a car like Billie’s during the week of Sept. 18 parked at various locations in Charlotte neighborhoods, near where Billie’s body was found. The property where the body was found is owned by and located next to the church where Brown attended vacation Bible school as a child.

"To know that this man took the time out to go back to the church where he went to Bible study at when he was a child, like how do you do that? That's sickening," said Kimberly Wimbish, a spokeswoman for Billie’s family.

Brown’s wireless internet usage data indicated that he used his mobile devices nearly every day from Sept. 1 to Sept. 29.

The only day in that time period that there was no usage data is Sept. 18, which is the day Billie went missing, police said.

Brown’s wireless internet usage data also indicated that he was on the base from Sept. 14 until late in the evening of Sept. 17, which is when all usage data stopped until starting again Sept. 19.

A review of security camera video from all of the gates on the base revealed no evidence of Brown ever leaving the base from Sept. 14 through Sept. 18.

A records check of base entry logs indicated that Brown re-entered Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek on the afternoon of Sept. 19.

During an Oct. 27 interview with law enforcement, Brown told agents he was on the base in Little Creek on the evening of Sept. 17, and that at one point, he blacked out and had no recollection of what he did for several days after that.

When discussing the abduction and murder of Billie, Brown confirmed that he could not remember if he did anything to Billie, according to law enforcement. 

In federal documents, a witness said Brown told them he hated African-American women.

"It is disgraceful and I will not accept PTSD," Wimbish said of Brown’s claims regarding his memory.

Brown appeared in court Wednesday and is being held in Norfolk.

"For me, I'm looking to stack every charge that we can put on him," said Ashanti Billie’s father, Meltony Billie.

Eric Brown’s family member, DeVona Brown Alleyne, released the following statement Wednesday evening:

"Along with multiple communities along the East Coast, we, the Brown family, are deeply saddened at the tragic loss of Ms. Ashanti Billie’s life. We cannot imagine the impact her death has on those lovingly connected to her. Although we are shaken by the recent arrest made, our immediate concern is for those who knew and loved Ms. Billie, and we pray for them to be supported in every way possible. No amount of insight that we could provide would take back the pain they are currently feeling and will likely experience in days, months and years to come. Respectfully, we will offer no additional comment regarding these devastating events."

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch sits for U.S. national anthem, stands for Mexico's

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 4:45 AM

Marshawn Lynch Wears Anti-Trump T-Shirt

Star NFL running back Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders was spotted sitting on the sidelines as the U.S. national anthem played before a Sunday afternoon game in Mexico against the New England Patriots.

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Lynch appeared to take his demonstration a step further by standing during the Mexican national anthem, according to reporters at the game:

Some social media users responded, claiming that this was “false news" and that Lynch was sitting because his equipment was being worked on.

According to Sports Illustrated, it’s not the first time Lynch chose to sit during the anthem. In fact, he’s been doing it all season.

 The Bleacher Report said over the summer that Lynch claimed he had been sitting during the anthem for 11 years, and his coach, Jack Del Rio, responded to that by saying, “It’s a non-issue for me.”

“On Marshawn, talked to Marshawn trying to make sure we’re on the same page,” Del Rio said. “He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’ I said, ‘So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I’m going to respect you as a man, you do your thing. We’ll do ours.’ It’s a non-issue for me.”

Earlier on Sunday, Rare covered a retired NFL running back who strongly disagrees with the protests occurring during the national anthem.

Former NFL stand-out Herschel Walker blamed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for allowing protests during the national anthem to become routine occurrences during the 2017 season and potentially beyond.

Walker said that he finds the protests “upsetting” and that they should have been stopped when they started.

Colin Kaepernick Files Greivance Against The NFL

“I absolutely think the protests are so upsetting, and I blame the commissioner,” he said, according to the New York Post. “I know people are going to be angry when I say it, but he should have stopped the protests at the very beginning.”

Walker said that if people want to protest they should do so in Washington, D.C.

“Our flag is very special, and black lives matter, but what we should do is go to Washington after the season and protest there instead. We have young men and women fighting for the flag. And we have to respect the White House,” he added.

Previously, Walker said that the NFL should make a rule that says players can only protest while “off the job.”

>> On Rare.us: NFL players take a knee on Veterans Day weekend

“I do, I think it means making a league-wide rule that if you want to protest, protest off the job. One of the things I want to say about the protests, where was everyone before the season started?” he asked. “I didn’t see anyone protesting in front of the White House, protesting in front of Congress or protesting in front of police officers. Why did we wait until football season started to start this again?”

Is It Illegal To Not Stand For The National Anthem?

Charles Manson dead at 83

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 12:58 AM
Updated: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 2:36 AM

Charles Manson Biography

Charles Manson, the notorious cult leader who led followers to murder several people in the 1960s, is dead, the California Department of Corrections said late Sunday. The 83-year-old died of “natural causes,” according to a CDCR news release.

>> Click here to read the statement from the California Department of Corrections

>> Charles Manson death: Notable reactions on social media

TMZ reported Wednesday that Manson’s health had been deteriorating steadily. He was transported with five uniformed cops to a hospital in Bakersfield, California, three days earlier, the site said.

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The convicted mass murderer was imprisoned at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, California, and was known as the leader of what later became known as the Manson Family cult. Despite the conviction, Manson himself never committed the murders.

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths 2017

Born in 1934, he was infamously connected to the violent murder of actress Sharon Tate and others in Hollywood. The Family, as they became known, carried out at least 35 murders, most of which never resulted in convictions. 

The first murders occurred in Aug. 1969, at a Los Angeles home rented by Roman Polanski. Mason reportedly directed four followers -- Steven Parent, Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian -- to brutally murder four victims in the house. Tate, Polanski’s pregnant wife, was among them, as were hairstylist Jay Sebring, coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger and her partner, writer Wojciech Frykowski. Polanski was shooting a movie in London.

>> PHOTOS: Charles Manson through the years

The Family, made up of about 100 followers, lived unconventionally and routinely used hallucinogenic drugs, such as magic mushrooms and LSD.

In January, Manson was hospitalized with a reported serious illness. According to TMZ, he had severe intestinal bleeding. He was sent back to Corocoran after doctors said he was too weak for doctors to repair a lesion. 

Charles Manson death: Notable reactions on social media

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 2:18 AM

Charles Manson Biography

Charles Manson, the cult leader who led followers to kill actress Sharon Tate and six others, is dead at age 83, the California Department of Corrections said late Sunday.

>> Charles Manson dead at 83

>> PHOTOS: Charles Manson through the years

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths 2017

>> Read more trending news

Here’s what public figures, celebrities, and other notable people and organizations were saying about his death:

Lena Dunham backtracks defense of 'Girls' producer accused of raping teen

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 3:23 AM

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 18:  Actor Lena Dunham speaks onstage at The Human Rights Campaign 2017 Los Angeles Gala Dinner at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on March 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)
Emma McIntyre
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 18: Actor Lena Dunham speaks onstage at The Human Rights Campaign 2017 Los Angeles Gala Dinner at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on March 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)(Emma McIntyre)

Lena Dunham did a major backtrack following backlash from her decision to defend a “Girls” producer who was recently accused of raping a teenage girl.

>> Lena Dunham slammed for defending 'Girls' producer accused of rape

Actress Aurora Perrineau filed a police report against producer Murray Miller, saying that he raped her in 2012 when she was 17 and he was 35 years old, according to The Wrap. In a statement filed by the now 23-year-old, Perrineau said she woke up in Murray’s bed after drinking alcohol with him in his hotel room and he was “having sexual intercourse with [her].” Murray “categorically and vehemently” denied the allegation.

Dunham and “Girls” showrunner Jenni Konner released a joint statement in which they did not simply stand by Murray, but accused Perrineau of lying:

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"While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue."

Many criticized Dunham for her part in the statement, especially considering she once popularly tweeted, “Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don’t lie about: rape.”

On Saturday night, Dunham issued an apology on Twitter, saying, “I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months:”

>> See the tweet here

Dunham added that she understood “it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement” and apologized.

Her apology was met with more criticism:

She was also accused of frequently making tone-deaf apologies:

In the initial fallout over Dunham’s statement, actress Asia Argento, who accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, questioned her, writing, “You wrote me an email of support a few weeks ago and now you defend a rapist?"

>> On Rare.us: Lena Dunham responds to backlash after she announced she had to give up her dog, Lamby

Commentator S.E. Cupp tweeted, “Life comes at you fast @lenadunham,” with a screenshot of Dunham’s statement and an old assertion that women did not lie about rape.

One commenter accused Dunham of insinuating that women were to be believed unless they accused personal friends of hers, while another accused her of “conveniently” turning a blind eye “while throwing other women under the bus.”