Austin police have closed the murder investigation surrounding the death of 29-year-old Esme Barrera, saying their lead suspect committed suicide in January.
At a Thursday press conference, nearly an entire year after Barrera’s death, Austin Police Department’ Chief Art Acevedo said that he’s confident if James Loren Brown was still alive, he would be indicted on murder charges.
Chief Acevedo said police walked Barrera’s family through the evidence they have against Brown, and they also agree Brown is responsible for the death of their daughter. The Travis County District Attorney’s office stands behind APD's decision to close the case.
Barrera was found dead in her King Street home during the early morning hours of New Year's Day. She was attacked shortly after she walked back from a New Year's Eve celebration at 29th Street Ballroom a few blocks from her home.
Police said a "bloody transfer," or shoe print, was found outside Barrera's residence. The print was that of ECCO sneakers, and through what Acevedo called“dogged police work,” investigators determined Brown had bought a $200 pair of ECCO sneakers in 2010.
The chief called those sneakers the “smoking gun” of the investigation.
Brown is also linked to two additional attacks in Barrera’s North Campus neighborhood in the same time period, neither deadly. One woman was grabbed in the street near Barrera's residence, but screamed and scared away the perpetrator. In a third attack that occurred after Barrera's murder, another woman in the same neighborhood awoke in her apartment to a man strangling her. Brown's DNA was linked to both those assaults.
Later in January, Austin police said they identified the man they believe killed Barrera as 25-year-old James Loren Brown. On Jan. 12, 2012, Brown’s body was discovered by his room mate in his apartment on 3016 Guadalupe Street, dead from what was later ruled a suicide. According to the autopsy report from the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office, Brown taped a plastic trash bag over his head and handcuffed his hands behind his back to suffocate himself.
In addition, Brown's DNA was found at several other attacks on women throughout South Austin and one in East Austin along East Cesar Chavez.
Watch APD's full press conference in the video below.
YNN: Bloody shoe print closes Esme Barrera's murder case
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