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Killer Of Heather Dawn Church; Serial Killer
Topic Started: Jul 27 2006, 05:18 PM (2,378 Views)

Possible Links to other missing people[Thinking of 169ufpa] as a possible victim.This man was a medic in the army.He traveled around.

Killer of Heather Dawn Church revealed as serial killer

Heather Dawn Church


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Special package on this breaking news story: Springs killer tied to 20 cases

The man who killed a Black Forest girl in 1991 has been tied to at least 19 other homicides in nine states and overseas by statements he made to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, making him one of the more prolific serial killers in the nation.

Robert Charles Browne, 53, who’s serving life without parole in a state prison in Cañon City for the kidnapping and murder of 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church, pleaded guilty today in El Paso County District Court to one of those additional killings: Rocio Sperry, the wife of a soldier and mother of a 3-month-old girl, whose strangled body Browne said he put in a Colorado Springs trash bin in 1987. Her body was never found.

Browne pleaded guilty to the murder in exchange for a concurrent life sentence, and has told authorities he’s killed 48 people.

During four years of interviews by El Paso County sheriff’s officials, Browne slowly revealed grisly details of at least 19 other killings that only the killer and investigators would know.

His connections to the killings will be disclosed today at a news conference in Colorado Springs. The slayings happened in Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and South Korea.

Sheriff Terry Maketa said he supported the investigation and worked with jurisdictions in other states to provide closure for families.

“A lot of people are going to say, ‘What difference does it make? He’s in prison,’” he said. “This is unlike many cases where we’re taking a threat off the streets. I recognized this three years ago and told our folks this isn’t about making the streets safer. This is an investigation that’s really about bringing closure to families and friends. We owe it to them to continue this investigation and to do everything we can to bring closure.”

Maketa said El Paso County commissioners authorized $20,000 in additional money to pay for the investigation, without knowing the details.

“We have a responsibility to work with agencies around the country,” he said. “It would kill me to say we can’t afford to continue this investigation. It shouldn’t be based on dollars and cents. Over the years I’ve seen jurisdictional issues interfere too much with the solving of crime.”

Two cases involve local women who went missing and weren’t considered homicide victims at the time they disappeared years ago.

Browne went to prison in 1995 after pleading guilty to kidnapping Heather from her rural home the evening of Sept. 17, 1991. She had been babysitting her younger brother, who was found safely sleeping in his bed.

Her disappearance launched a community search that scattered tens of thousands of posters of the bespectacled girl in store windows and on utility poles throughout eastern Colorado and western Kansas.

It was a high-profile case that gradually faded from public attention until her skull was found in a canyon off Rampart Range Road exactly two years after she disappeared.

In 1995, the Sheriff’s Office pinned the murder on Browne using a fingerprint from a window screen that had been removed from the Church family’s house. Browne had been fingerprinted during an arrest for a 1986 vehicle theft in Louisiana. He lived a half-mile from the Church home.

His arrest for Heather’s murder was the end of the line for Browne, who started his spree by killing a soldier in Korea in the early 1970s after a squabble over a prostitute. The list included more women than men and many victims who were assumed to have simply gone missing because of their transient lifestyles.

Browne told cold-case volunteer Charlie Hess in letters and sporadic meetings over four years that he strangled, shot or stabbed 20 men and women he encountered at roadside turnouts, in bars or on the street. Many of them, Browne didn’t even know their names.

Authorities have accounted for seven bodies.

Hess said Browne told him he dismembered one body in a motel room to avoid being seen carrying it to a vehicle. “He cut her up in the bathtub and put body parts in a suitcase and took them to a certain place and just threw them near the road,” said Hess, a former special agent with the FBI who was with the CIA in Vietnam in the 1960s and now works on Sheriff’s Office cold cases with two other retirees.

Maketa said the body was cut up with precision, and that Browne was trained as a medic while in the Army.

“He knew where to cut to dismantle” the body, Maketa said.

Browne escaped suspicion because many bodies were never found or there was no reason to suspect him, Hess said. He was never questioned by authorities in any cases other than Heather’s.

Browne told interrogators that his method was to choose easy targets, or “opportunities,” as he called them, during “ramblings” that took him on days-long drives across the country.

“He said he didn’t take any chances,” Hess said. “He would have to be 100 percent certain that he couldn’t be observed with the individual, couldn’t be tied to them in any way. He was with many of his victims only a matter of minutes. There was no pattern.”

Hess said women who have known Browne, who has told sheriff’s officials he wants no visitors and will give no media interviews, describe the tall man as charming, attractive, well-read, articulate and conversant on a number of topics. But as relationships progressed, he became domineering and in some cases cruel.

Browne gave Hess information about many crimes that led authorities in other states to believe Browne is responsible for the unsolved cases. He has described where bodies were left, how victims were killed and how they were dressed.

Whether Browne will be charged in other states isn’t clear.

Maketa said he believes two other cases, in Texas and Louisiana, have enough evidence to prosecute and he hopes today’s news conference generates renewed interest in other jurisdictions investigating cases.

Also unclear is whether information Browne has given would be enough to convict him or whether it would be admissible in court; he never asked for or was given an attorney before making the revelations, but always waived his Miranda rights to remain silent and have an attorney present.

He was represented in court today by public defender William Schoewe.


Browne’s tale began to unfold after the cold-case volunteers identified him as a possible serial killer.

Former Colorado Springs police detective turned volunteer Lou Smit had a hunch Brown had killed before. Smit, who drew headlines for his intruder theory in the 1996 slaying of JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, solved the Church case after being lured from retirement by then-Sheriff John Anderson.

Because of that work, he was familiar with Browne but his sense for Browne’s past was “intuitive,” Hess said.

They found Browne had written to the Sheriff’s Office in 2000, two years after he lost a bid to withdraw his guilty plea in the Church case. The letter taunted authorities, Hess said, saying, “There’s a lot more out there you don’t know about.” But after exchanging a letter or two, Browne stopped writing and clammed up when a deputy attempted to visit him in prison.

On May 9, 2002, Hess wrote his first letter to Browne.

“I just wrote to say who I was, the fact we had a small group working on cold cases and our goal was to find closure in those cases, and since he had hinted or claimed to have other homicides behind him, that we would like the information concerning those so that we could bring the cases to closure,” Hess said.

Browne wrote back May 16, and a dialogue began. Early on, he wrote in riddles, such as, “Seven virgins side by side, others less worthy scattered wide.” There’s no evidence of a grave with seven bodies.

In September 2002, he gave the first concrete clue to a slaying, the Colorado Springs he pleaded guilty to today, by identifying the victim’s vehicle as a white Pontiac Grand Am.

“I didn’t really think that we had something, because we were the only ones who were really involved in it at that time,” Hess said, adding that sheriff’s officials were encouraging but not yet involved. “No one had any way of knowing whether these were legitimate, because the few scraps that he gave us were impossible to put together.”

Investigators tried, however. Detective Rick Frady compiled a list of about 170 stolen white Grand Ams from state vehicle registration records during a years-long period and began to eliminate them one by one. He narrowed it to two, and, finally, the one that belonged to Sperry.

Then in May 2003, Browne wrote a letter that listed cities and states where killings had happened, including specific locations of bodies.

Hess, Smit and Scott Fisher, a former Gazette publisher and the cold-case unit’s third member, contacted authorities, including officials in Flatonia, Texas.

“When I gave them the information that Browne had given in his letter, they immediately identified the case, and at that time said that the few details he gave us did match up with their unsolved murder,” Hess said.

Browne told Hess he was on a “rambling” in March 1984 when he stopped at a motel in Flatonia, between Houston and San Antonio. He said he met a woman, 19 or 20, in the bar. As with most of his victims, he didn’t know her name. She was intoxicated and wasn’t wearing shoes. Browne said he lured her to his room, knocked her out with ether, had sex with her and stabbed her in the heart with an ice pick. He dressed her and dumped the body in a ditch on a rural road near a small bridge or culvert.

Authorities with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office told Hess that the body of a woman whose identity hasn’t been released was found 10 to 11 days after she was killed, barefoot.

The woman had been staying at the motel with her husband. She had become angry, marched out of the room and went to the bar, the husband told authorities at the time.

An autopsy found she died of ingesting what was believed to be acetone, although the report noted there was bleeding around the heart.

Hess said that when contacted by El Paso County, the Texas authorities couldn’t offer much detail, saying most records had been lost. Still, the deputy who dug up the case file said Browne “couldn’t know all that unless he did it or he was there,” Hess said.


In 2004, Browne stopped writing. Hess suggested a meeting, but Browne refused, saying he wouldn’t know how to relate, having not spoken with anyone for so long. Browne had had no visitors in prison.

“I wrote back and I told him, ‘Hey, I’ve debriefed people who were held prisoner where they had absolutely no contact with any other Americans and some of them almost forgot the English language,’” Hess said, referring to work he did with U.S. prisoners of war in Vietnam. “He still said he didn’t want to talk in person. He said, ‘I don’t want to be interrogated or pushed around.’ I wrote back and said that’s not my style. I don’t interrogate people. I interview people. I talk with people, so there is no interrogation. He still didn’t want to see me.”

After Browne didn’t write for three months, Hess said, he showed up at the prison unannounced. “I thought there was nothing to lose,” he said.

Shackled and cuffed in a room with Hess, Browne sat without saying a word, Hess recalled. Hess said, “Do you know who I am?” Browne said, “No.” Hess said, “I’m Charlie Hess.”

Hess said Browne seemed intrigued that the investigator had actually shown up. Sitting across an office table with a guard outside the door, they chatted but didn’t discuss cases during the hourlong meeting. “I just wanted to know if he wished to re-establish contact, because it appeared he wanted to provide information,” Hess said. “After all, he contacted us originally and all letters were voluntary.”

Hess described Browne as polite and respectful but unemotional, guarded and not remorseful. “It became obvious to me that in order to discuss anything with him he would have to be talked to with respect and I would have to be nonjudgmental or the conversations and probably the communications would stop,” he said.

Hess said he visited Browne once or twice a month, and Browne gave information more freely with hopes some of his requests would be granted, such as a move to another prison and treatment by a nonprison doctor for arthritis and other ailments.

By early 2005, Browne had provided enough details of two killings in Texas that local authorities were convinced he committed them.

“What made us willing to consider this doctor and relocation was that Robert Browne stated, ‘If you can have these things happen, I will give you three murders in Louisiana, unsolved, and enough information to solve or prove I killed a lady in Colorado Springs,’” Hess said.

Browne was moved out of 23-hour lockdown when he became eligible for a rehab program that prepares prisoners to be housed in the general prison population. He also was provided a new doctor. After prison doctors changed his medications, Browne’s health improved, and so did his cooperation.

Hess said Browne provided information on the three Louisiana slayings, as promised.

Browne told Hess that in 1983 he killed two women in his hometown, Coushatta, La., in Red River Parish. One victim was a neighbor. He met the other woman in a bar.

One was found in her apartment, a cabin, that sat in view of Browne’s apartment window. The other’s body was dumped into the Red River. Her body has not been found, and she was considered a missing person until recently. Both were in their 20s.

Browne did maintenance work at the complex, and had changed the lock on the first woman’s door the day before she died, saying the owner, his brother, wanted the lock changed.

The woman told a relative about the lock being changed and expressed concern that Browne had a key.

Officials knocked on Browne’s door when the body was found. Browne and his former wife answered, looking hung over. They asked if he heard anything the night before. He said he had not. End of interview.

The third victim was a girl, 16, he picked up after a teenage gathering at a local food place. She needed a ride and a place to stay. Taking her to a front room in his mother’s house, he had sex with her and strangled her before dumping her body in a creek about 50 miles away.

Six months later, body parts and a skull were found by hunters and identified as those of the person Browne described, whom he knew only by a nickname, Fuzzy.

Browne also told of a woman in Colorado Springs — Sperry, but he didn’t know her name — who was treated as a missing person. He strangled her after a date and dumped her body in a trash bin. Sperry was alone, because her husband, Joseph, had taken their baby daughter, Amy, to Florida to visit family.

Joseph Sperry has been estranged from his daughter since then, because the girl was raised by her mother’s family, who was convinced the husband killed his wife.

“She didn’t know until we told her,” Maketa said, “so she’s gone all through her life being led to believe that it was her father who killed her mother. When we contacted him, he had some of the original (missing persons) reports he filed. That’s something he carried with him for a long time.”

In 1986, Browne stole a truck in Louisiana, drove across the country and killed three people on the West Coast. Arrested for the vehicle theft, Browne was fingerprinted. That set of prints led indirectly to his life prison term, when El Paso County officials matched a print to the Church home.


Hess said some dates Browne provided don’t match exactly with when someone went missing, because of his memory problems and because he dumped bodies in places he’d never been and hasn’t returned to since. He also admitted getting some slayings mixed up with others.

Getting information from Browne was a challenge. Always courteous and well-groomed, Browne seemed to look forward to the meetings, held in an office with guards posted outside the door. He never swore and sat quietly, sometimes saying little.

“It was a slow process because it was always one question, one answer. New question, new answer,” Hess said. “You didn’t get the feeling that he was enjoying providing the details, yet he wasn’t reluctant to give them.”

Maketa said FBI profilers concluded Browne is a psychopath and possesses a common serial-killer trait — an obsessive need to be in control.

“First, Robert Browne is not stupid. He would give us just enough to where we knew we had a case but it wasn’t a strong case,” Maketa said.

“He controlled the tempo of the conversations, what we could ask, when we could hold the interviews, how long they would last,” he said. “To some degree they (serial killers) want to share but under their rules. He dictated what would be talked about.”

Hess, after meeting with Browne dozens of times, can’t explain his motive.

“He said he didn’t know,” he said. “When I asked him what would trigger it, what would make you want to kill an individual, he said, ‘I wouldn’t be particularly mad about something, upset. It’s just the opportunity was there.’ I think there’s something in his psyche that says you’ve got to do away with these people. He says all women are whores, and they cheat on their husbands, they’re prostitutes, they never tell the truth, they’re always trying to get something from you.”

Last year, detectives worked with officials in other states to match unsolved cases and verify details. The work involved phone calls and visits to other states, digging records from forgotten file cabinets and testing memories.

Sheriff’s investigator Jeff Nohr was assigned. In recent months, most everyone in major crimes was involved in some way.

So far, six bodies, not including that of Heather Church, have been found — one each in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and two each in Louisiana and Texas.

Others were dumped into rivers or over cliffs. Recent searches in some states have yielded no remains, although sheriff’s officials praised authorities for their work in resurrecting old investigations and helping match details of the killings to Browne’s confessions.

In February, authorities from several states met in Dallas for two days during which El Paso County officials outlined what Browne had told them.

Some officials reportedly are willing to offer immunity from prosecution if Browne confesses, allowing them to close the case and provide closure to families. But Browne would be expected to give lots of detail to convince them he was the killer, Hess said.

Whether Browne is tried in more slayings is a secondary concern to Hess and his cohorts, because Browne is serving life without parole.

“We want to be able to bring some closure to these people. That’s what we’re all about,” he said. “The convictions, that’s up to the prosecutors. But to be able to prove he actually did that particular crime and we can go to that family and tell them, it doesn’t make up for what happened, but there’s some degree of solace in that they realize the guy’s in jail forever.”

Maketa credits Hess with persuading Browne to talk, a lesson for all investigators.

“Charlie really opened a gateway to a lesson learned on this,” he said. When Browne wrote to investigators initially, their attitude was, “Tell me what you need to tell me or don’t bother writing me,” Maketa said.

“They forget we’re dealing with people that process things, especially serials, that have this desire to control,” he said. “I fully credit Charlie. His demeanor and patience should be a reminder to all investigators, cold case or even current homicide, that sometimes you can’t control everything. Sometimes you need to let the suspect think they have control.”

Maketa said Browne has claimed credit for 48 slayings, and he believes him. “At this point, he says, ‘I’ve given you everything I can remember,’” he said. “I think he’ll continue to remember things.”

The sheriff said he’ll establish a hotline to receive calls from people who may have information on Browne’s crimes.

“We’re setting it up in anticipation of a lot of calls,” he said. “There’s still a lot of cases he’s told us about that we can’t tie him into.”

CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0238 or pam.zubeck@gazette.com


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Photo of Robert Charles Browne and article

Police Say Killer Claims 48 More Murders

POSTED: 2:22 pm EDT July 27, 2006
UPDATED: 5:54 pm EDT July 27, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A Colorado man already serving a life sentence on a murder conviction is claiming responsibility for up to 48 slayings throughout the United States.

The El Paso County, Colo., Sheriff's Department said Thursday that 53-year-old Robert Charles Browne told authorities the slayings occurred from 1970 until his arrest in 1995.

Sheriff Terry Maketa said Browne's claims are credible, but said in a news conference that police cannot corroborate links between Brown and 41 of the alleged victims. They have developed what they call a death map of his alleged victims. It covers nine states, mostly in the south and southwest.

Maketa described Browne as a "very intelligent murderer who "knew exactly what he was doing." He said Browne knew some of his victims, while others were "victims of opportunity," Maketa said.

The younger the alleged victims, the less he was interested in talking about his relationship to them, Maketa said.

Brown used knives, guns, screwdrivers, ligatures, chloroform, ether and his bare hands to kill his victims, Maketa said. He allegedly had sex with some of the victims, and he dumped the bodies in lakes, rivers, ditches and over cliffs. Some bodies were cut up and some of those victims were deposited in waste bins or thrown off cliffs, Maketa said.

The investigation was first reported on the Web site of The Gazette of Colorado Springs. The newspaper said authorities have linked Browne to 19 of the slayings, in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and South Korea.

The Sheriff's Department said that Brown pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in the 1987 death of Rocio Delpilar Sperry, who was married to a Fort Carson soldier.

Browne said he placed Sperry's body in a trash bin. It was never found.

The department said the charge in Sperry's death came as "a result of communications initiated by Mr. Browne in 2002."

The department said Browne has given investigators information on other slayings across the country since then.

In 1995, Browne pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder charges in the 1991 death of 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church of Black Forest, a small town 12 miles north of Colorado Springs.

According to authorities, she was abducted from her Black Forest home near Colorado Springs while her mother and two brothers attended a Scout meeting. Browne was linked to the case by fingerprints and was found living a half-mile from the Church home three years later.

Police said Browne confessed that he had killed Church with a blow to the head when she discovered him burglarizing her family's home. Her skeletal remains were found in a ravine two years after she disappeared. Browne was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the crime.

A sheriff's department spokesman said he had no immediate comment. The department scheduled a news conference for later Thursday.

Other Recent News:
July 25, 2006: 50 Missing Women Linked To Death Row Killer


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I have been researching this subject-- just thought I would add the articles that I found.

Related To Story

Robert Charles Browne says he has killed 48 people throughout the United States.

Video: Interrogation Tape Released
Transcript: 1995 Interview
Video: Police Optimistic About Cowboy Girl's ID
Video: Killer Admits To 48 Victims
Video: Press Conference 1 | Part 2
Video: Suthers Talks About Church Case
Images: Photos Of Victims
Victims: 8 Identified
Resource: Arrest Affidavit

Victims Of Robert Charles Browne
The following victims of Robert Browne are listed in order of their disappearance. Details compiled by Colorado authorities.

Katherine Jean "Fuzzy" Hayes

She was from Coushatta, La. She was 15 years old.

She was declared missing July 4, 1980. Her remains were discovered by a hunter on Oct. 16, 1980.

Browne said that he met the girl, whom he only knew as "Fuzzy," at Uncle Albert's Chicken Stand and offered to give her a ride and a place to stay. He took her to his mother's house where he said they had consenual sex. Then he strangled her with leather shoelaces, he said. He said he put her body in the trunk of his car and dumped her off a bridge into Nanatachie Creek, near Montgomery, La.

Her skeletal remains were found under a bridge near St. Maurice, La.

Faye Self:

She is from Coushatta, La. She was 26 years old and 5 foot 2 inches tall and 100 pounds.

She disappeared March 30, 1983. Her remains were never found but she was declared dead in 1991.

She lived at the apartment complex owned by Browne's brother. Browne lived in a neighboring building. He said he met her at a bar called Alice's Wagon Wheel. He later entered her apartment through an unlocked door while she was sleeping. Browne said he placed a chloroform rag over her nose and mouth to subdue her. He said that the chloroform was actually a commercial product designed to be a red ant killer. He said left to get rope to tie her up and have sex with her but thinks he used too much chloroform and killed her. He said he came back into the apartment after she had died, placed her body in the trunk of his car and disposed of it from a nearby bridge into the Red River.

Wanda Faye Hudson

She was Coushatta, La. She was 20 years old, 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighed 125 pounds.

She was his neighbor. She was found dead from multiple stab wounds on May 28, 1983.

Browne was a maintance man at the apartment complex owned by his brother. He had changed her lock the previous day and returned the following night using a key and undid the chain lock on the door. He said he put chloroform cloth over her nose and stabbed her several times with a screwdriver. Police confirm she was killed inside the Riverside Apartments.

Browne told investigators was a spur-of-the-moment slaying.

Nida Mendoza

She was from Sugar Land, Texas. She was 17 years old, 5 feet tall and weighed 95 pounds.

She was declared missing Feb. 2, 1984 and discovered Feb. 6, 1984.

Browne claimed that he met her at the Dames Night Club in Sugarland, where she was worked as a topless dancer. He said she agreed to have sex with him for money.

Browne said he took her to a local motel where they had consensual sex. He then strangled her with his hands, dismembered her body and placed it in a suitcase and made two separate trips to dispose of her body in a ditch in a remote area.

Her body was discovered along U.S. Highwy 59, southwest of the Houston city limits.

Melody Ann Bush

She was from Sugarland, Texas. She was 22 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 120 pounds.

She was declared missing March 30, 1984. She was found dead along the highway the same day.

Browne said they were both staying at the same hotel and she asked him to give her a ride to a bar where her husband was located. Bush had just had a fight with her husband and wanted to return, Browne said.

Browne was a silk flower salesman who stopped in the clubs to pass out flowers to the women in the clubs. He was a truck driver and his routes regularly took him through Flatonia, Texas.

Browne said the two went to his room where they had consensual sex. Browne said he placed an ether soap rag over her nose and mouth and stabbed her in the chest with an ice pick, he said. The examiner's office said she died from acute acetone poisoning.

He said he dumped her body in a drainage ditch about two miles north of Flatonia, Texas.

Rocio Sperry

She was from Colorado Springs, Colo. She was 15 years old, 5 feet 4 inches and and weighed 104 pounds.

She was reported missing Nov. 15, 1987. Her remains were never located.

Browne claims that she frequently visited the Kwik Stop and often spoke with him about her struggles with her family situation. He said she told him her husband had left with her child for the state of Florida.

Browne said he strangled her, placed her body in the bathtub and dismembered her, severing her at the joints. Browne said he placed the body parts, piece by piece, into trash bags and then took them out to the Dumpster behind the apartment.

Heather Dawn Church

She was from Black Forest, Colo. She was 13 years old, 5 feet 1 inch tall and 78 pounds.

Heather was reported missing on Sept. 17, 1991. Her remains were found in El Paso on Sept 16, 1993. The cause of her death is unknown.

Browne was arrested after his fingerprint was found on a screen at the victim's house. Brown refused to speak with investigators in regards to this case on every level of detail. He has always held that he was framed for this case but did accept a plea to first-degree murder, which carried a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Lisa Lowe

She was from West Memphis, Arkansas. She was 21 years old, 5 feet tall, 125 pounds.

She was reported missing Nov. 3, 1991 and her body was discovered 23 days later on Nov. 26. 1991.

Her manner and cause of death were undetermined.

Lisa was last seen leaving her boyfriend's house heading to a blues nightclub in Memphis, Tenn. Browne said he left with her from the nightclub and the two drove to Arkansas on Interstate 40 to a wooded area off the highway. Browne said he strangled the woman with his hands, and possibly shot her after she performed oral sex on him. He later dumped her in the St. Francis River.


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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URL: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/loca...4876603,00.html

Todd Heisler © News

Lou Smit, a former Colorado Springs detective, stands in front of photos of Robert Browne, a man he arrested in 1995 in the killing of 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church. Smit was present as the El Paso County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday that Browne has confessed to 48 other killings.

Prisoner confesses to 25 years of killing
Man already serving life for murder of Colorado girl in 1991

By Sara Burnett, Rocky Mountain News
July 27, 2006

At first, convicted killer Robert Charles Browne taunted investigators, sending letters about his murderous "ramblings" and a hand- drawn map marked with the number of people he claimed to have killed: 49 across nine states and South Korea, including nine in Colorado.

On Thursday, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said authorities have reason to believe him.

The 53-year-old, already serving a life sentence for the 1991 murder of 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church, has given detectives enough information during the past four years to corroborate his role in seven other killings, including the 1987 strangulation of a Colorado Springs mother whose body never was found, Maketa said.

Browne pleaded guilty to that murder, of 15-year-old Rocio Sperry, and was sentenced to another term of life in prison Thursday .

Browne says he murdered for the first time in 1970 while serving in the U.S. Army in South Korea, then left a trail across the south, into Texas, the West Coast and, finally, Colorado, where he has been behind bars since 1995.

The claims, if true, would place Browne - a high school dropout with a penchant for young, petite women - among the most prolific of serial killers.

Disgust for women

Why he committed the crimes, however, remains a mystery.

Browne told investigators he liked to go "rambling" at night, and sometimes would encounter men and women in deserted areas whom he called "victims of opportunity."

In many cases, he had sex with the victims, which he said was always consensual.

"I think the word he used quite often was, 'They were more just opportunities,' " Maketa said.

"With the women that he murdered, he also claims those were more or less - 'The opportunity was there and I took advantage of it.' It's just how he viewed things."

But Browne also spoke often of his disgust for women, calling them "low . . . unfaithful . . . cheats" who "screw around on their husbands," according to a statement released by the sheriff's office.

"(It would be triggered by) my disgust . . . at the lack of morality . . . Women try to present themselves to be one thing, and then always prove to be something else," Browne is quoted as saying.

Browne likely got away with his crimes because he never spent much time with his victims before killing them and was adept at disposing of their bodies, Maketa said.

When he killed in the South, he often put the bodies in lakes and rivers. In the mountains, he would drop them off cliffs.

On at least one occasion - the murder of a 17-year-old topless dancer in a motel room near Houston - Browne said he cut up the body, put it in a suitcase and made two trips to a ditch to get rid of her, Maketa said.

Most of the victims Browne barely knew and in many cases, the details he provided police were so scant that they cannot verify his story.

In one case, Browne told investigators all he knew of his victim was her nickname - "Fuzzy."

Motive for confession unclear

His methods of murder also varied. Some people he strangled with his hands or a ligature such as leather shoelaces. Some of his victims he shot. He also used chemicals such as chloroform and ether, and stabbed victims using a knife, screwdriver or ice pick.

Detectives said they aren't sure why Browne decided to come clean about his crimes. It's possible he wanted to use the information to get things authorities provided him in exchange - medical care, novels or a cell to himself, for example.

In an arrest affidavit, authorities said Browne once asked hypothetically whether a person could be quickly put to death if he were to confess to another murder.

Browne also has expressed interest in having a book written about him.

But it still could be years before the full story is known.

The process of drawing information from the Louisiana native has been long and slow, Maketa and investigator Charlie Hess said. Browne is intelligent - his IQ is around 140 - and holds much, if not all, of the control, meting out sometimes vague information as he sees fit.

What authorities know so far, they said, is the result of relentless, exceedingly patient police work.

Browne flew largely under the radar until he was arrested for Church's murder in 1995.

The 13-year-old had gone missing four years earlier while baby-sitting her younger brother. Her remains were found two years after her disappearance in a mountainous area near Rampart Range Road, west of Colorado Springs.

Detectives pursued hundreds of leads in the case. But it wasn't until well-known investigator Lou Smit became captain of detectives that a nationwide search of fingerprint databases turned up a match to prints found at the Church home: Robert Charles Browne, a parolee released from a Louisiana prison after serving 10 months for burglary and motor vehicle theft.

Records showed Browne's parole had been transferred in 1987 to Colorado, where he lived a half-mile from the Church home.

Browne maintained his innocence after being charged, but eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

Doubted at first

On March 30, 2000, Browne sent an unsolicited letter to the district attorney's office in Colorado Springs in which he wrote a kind of poem, implying he had killed others. It read, in part, "seven sacred virgins, entombed side by side, those less worthy, are scattered wide," and went on to taunt investigators with, "The score is, you one, the other team 48."

He also made reference to a white Trans Am and nine victims, presumably the number scrawled on a map that he indicated he killed in Colorado.

At the end of the letter, Browne said he did not want to be contacted.

When Browne wouldn't cooperate, investigators began to doubt his claims. The letter was filed away until two years later, when Smit began working on the cold case unit with Hess and Detective Scott Fisher.

The trio decided to try communicating with someone who might be a serial killer, Hess recalled Thursday. Smit suggested Browne - a hunch that was bolstered when the group discovered the 2000 letter.

Hess, a former FBI and CIA officer who now volunteers with the unit, wrote a letter to Browne in May 2002, explaining who the group was, its background and its suspicions.

During the next few years the two communicated, and Browne again mentioned a white car, this time a Grand Am, that was involved in a Colorado Springs case in 1987 or 1988.

Browne recalled that the victim was married to a soldier at Fort Carson. In 2005, he told Hess the location of the murder, that he stole a television from the woman's home, put her body in a Dumpster, and that her husband later found the car.

A search of 172 Pontiacs reported stolen around that time eventually turned up Joseph Sperry, who reported his wife missing Nov. 15, 1987.

Sperry, who is now living in Florida, told investigators he and his wife, Rocio, were having marital problems at the time of her disappearance. They had decided Joseph should take their 3-month-old daughter, Amie, to Florida to stay with his parents for a while.

Rocio dropped Joseph off at the airport and was supposed to pick him up when he returned. But she never showed.

According to Browne, Rocio Sperry would often come in to the Kwik Stop down the road from the couple's apartment, where he worked. She would talk about her marital problems, and when her husband left town, she let it be known she was home alone, Browne told investigators.

Browne said he suggested the two see a movie together.

After their date, he strangled her with his hands, dismembered her in his bathtub, put the pieces in trash bags and threw them in the Dumpster behind his apartment.

Rocio's body never was found, and until 2005, she was still listed as a missing person.

Joseph and Amie Sperry were in Colorado Springs for Browne's guilty plea Thursday. They sat at a table near the podium during a news conference Thursday afternoon and told reporters afterward that they were relieved.

It was for the Sperrys and the families of the other victims that the detectives pursued the case so vigorously, even though Browne already was serving a life term and the investigation was costly, Maketa said.

"For the friends and family of the victims, it answers many questions. More importantly, it brings about some sense of closure and, maybe, even in some cases, some vindication."

Twenty letters

Browne's accounts didn't stop with Rocio Sperry.

In all, he wrote more than 20 letters to investigators in addition to eventually meeting with them in person.

In one of the more detailed letters - described by detectives as "a windfall of sorts" - Browne took authorities on an imaginary road trip, in which he narrated several of his murders.

"We started out in Colorado Springs . . . " he began the letter, dated May 20, 2003. "From there we went to Flatonia (Texas)," a town Browne had referenced in earlier exchanges.

The letter continued on, through New Orleans - which he described as "very fertile grounds" - then Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Washington, California and New Mexico. He described killing a woman in a hotel near the French Quarter, dumping two men in a swamp along the Alabama border, and a "male in the muck" in Oklahoma.

Detectives began contacting authorities in other states, and continued questioning Browne, who agreed in 2004 to meet with them in person.

The discussions and continued investigations have resulted in the guilty plea in the Sperry case as well as six other cases that Maketa said have been corroborated, as well as the earlier Church case.

They comprise three women in Louisiana - all killed in or around Browne's hometown of Coushatta - one in Arkansas and two in Texas.

Of the eight victims besides Sperry that Browne claims to have killed in Colorado, he has given details about only one, a woman he met at a Colorado Springs bar called Cowboys in 1991 or 1992. Investigators have dubbed her "The Cowboy Girl."

Browne said he spotted the tall, thin blonde "making the rounds" at the bar and picked her up later along Academy Boulevard, where he saw her hitchhiking.

The two went to another club before going back to his home, where they had sex and he strangled her, Browne said. He wrapped her body in plastic and kept it in a spare room for a few days before disposing if it off Gold Camp Road, near Cripple Creek.

Detectives have contacted area departments and reviewed missing person files from the time, identifying three who match Browne's description. Two have been located, while the third is still being investigated.

The remaining Colorado cases are more vague.

Browne said he shot a young couple at a rest stop along westbound Interstate 70 sometime around 1980, for example. But he couldn't say if the murders occurred in Colorado or Utah or describe the couple's car or the type of gun he used.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is looking into that case, according to the statement released Thursday.

Other law enforcement departments also are investigating information provided by Browne, and still could file charges against him.

Among them is the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Army in South Korea, where Browne said he committed his first murder, breaking the neck of another soldier who had become "jealous of a whore."

Meantime, Browne remains in prison in Cañon City, where he has health problems and has told investigators he does not want to speak with the media.

"He dreads the day he becomes notorious," Maketa said.


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Last Updated: 7/29/2006 4:58:26 PM
COLORADO, Co. (KUSA) - Thursday morning Robert Charles Browne pleaded guilty to the 1987 murder of Rocio Delpilar Sperry.

Sperry was 15 years old when she was killed in November 1987 at an apartment complex in Colorado Springs. Browne claims he put her in a dumpster after strangling her to death.

Browne told authorities he murdered 48 people from about 1970 until he was arrested and charged with the murder of Heather Dawn Church, 13, in El Paso County in March 1995.

Church was reported missing from her Black Forest area home in September 1991 and her body was discovered in September 1993.

Authorities have linked Browne to 19 slayings in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and South Korea.

In addition to Church, authorities have accounted for seven bodies connected with Browne's claims, one of the dead was Sperry, two others were in Texas, three in Louisiana, and one in Arkansas.

Browne claims he strangled Lisa Lowe, 21, to death in Arkansas in November 1991 and dumped her in a river.

Katherine Hayes, 15, went missing in July 1980 in Louisiana. Browne told investigators he strangled her to death with shoelaces.

Browne claims he killed 21-year-old Wanda Faye Hudson and 26-year-old Faye Self, both in Louisiana.

Melody Bush, 22, was killed in Texas after Browne says he picked her up on the side of the road in March 1984.

Browne says he strangled Nidia Mendoza, 17, to death in Texas in February 1984.

Browne told police in many of the cases he had consensual sex with the women or girls before killing them.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says Browne's claims of 48 murders could be credible.

"It's possible he's exaggerating, but I don't think you can conduct business assuming he's exaggerating," Maketa said. "We'll continue to pursue leads."

The sheriff's office says Browne claims to have strangled, shot or stabbed men and women he encountered at roadside turnouts, in bars or on the street. He would stab people with a knife, a screwdriver, or an ice pick. Browne told authorities he dismembered one victim in a motel room bathtub so he would not be seen carrying the body from the room, then put the parts in a suitcase and dumped it beside a road.

Browne discussed the slayings in sporadic meetings and an exchange of letters he had with Charlie Hess, a sheriff's department cold-case investigator, over four years.

Hess got involved after Browne started writing letters deputies described as "taunting" to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, but the letters abruptly broke off. "We started by writing a very direct letter to Robert indicating who we were," said Hess.

Hess said Browne then started the correspondence, but he did not want the investigators to come and see him in person. However, when he broke off communication again, investigators went to see him and Browne agreed to resume the correspondence.

"Little by little he gave us bits of information," said Hess. "Being non-judgmental was necessary."

"It became obvious with Robert that most things were a negotiation: If I can have a single cell I'll tell you this. If I can have this, I can give you three murders," said Hess. "All of the things he asked for were reasonable, within the law, with the rules of DOC."

"It became obvious that we had to go on, and in my mind that there still was more," said Hess.

Hess, who said he is a former FBI and CIA agent, volunteers to help the sheriff's office investigate cold cases.

"We don't like to call them cold cases, we like to call them unresolved cases. A cold case would indicate to me a case that is put on the shelf and forgotten. We don't forget them," said Hess.

Hess says he was originally drawn toward helping the sheriff's department after his own son-in-law was murdered.

Browne is the youngest of nine children, severed in the military and has an extensive criminal record. He served time for a motor vehicle theft in Louisiana and also as a history of arson, cruelty to animals, and burglary.

He was born on Halloween in 1952 and was married six different times. Police say they believe all of his former wives are still alive.


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Louisiana lawmen begin scouring old records

DNEW ORLEANS -- Word that Robert Charles Browne claimed to have killed 17 people in Louisiana send state lawmen on a search of old files on Friday.

Colorado authorities announced Thursday that Browne, 53, claimed to have committed at least 48 murders before his arrest in 1995. He has pleaded guilty to two slayings and is serving a life sentence for murdering a Colorado girl in 1991.

Investigators said that so far they have been able to corroborate Browne's claims in six slayings _ including three in Louisiana.

Browne, who grew up in the northern Louisiana town of Coushatta, claimed three murders in his home town.

Wanda Faye Hudson, 20, was believed killed May 28, 1983, in her apartment in what Browne told investigators was a spur-of-the-moment slaying of his next-door neighbor. Browne told investigators he subdued the woman with red ant pesticide, which at the time contained chloroform, then stabbed her 29 times with a screwdriver.

Faye Self, 26, was reported missing March 30, 1983. Her body was never found. Browne said he went to Self's apartment after meeting her at a nightclub. He said he placed a chloroform-soaked rag over her face, left to get rope to tie her up, but she died before he could have sex with her. He said he disposed of her body in the Red River.

Katherine Jean "Fuzzy" Hayes, 15, whose body was found Oct. 16, 1980, was picked up from a chicken stand. Browne claimed he strangled the girl in a bedroom of his mother's home with leather shoelaces after the two had sex, then argued. Hayes' was discovered by hunters off of U.S. 71 in Winn Parish.

In Natchitoches, Browne said he killed a woman he met at a bar. Browne recalled that her newlywed husband worked for International Paper.

He said they left the bar and went to a motel in Clarence, where he checked in under his real name. He claimed he strangled her after they had sex, and dumped her body in a river.

Natchitoches Parish sheriff's detectives said Friday that they are trying to find out if the claimed homicide was a legitimate case.

"We are at square one," said Detective Travis Trammel

State Police don't have any reports or records to match the claim.

Browne said he met a woman in or near the French Quarter around 1977 and he killed her in her hotel room at a Holiday Inn.

Browne, who called New Orleans, "very fertile grounds," said he left the woman's body in the hotel room about five minutes from the French Quarter.

"Back in those days I'm not familiar with any Holiday Inn that was near an interstate," said Captain Joe Waguespack, commander of the NOPD homicide division. "And I was on the job in 1977."

Police are searching through old records, Waguespack said, but as of Friday afternoon had not found a victim matching Browne's claim.

"From the original information we were getting we zeroed in on 1977, but we found nothing similar for 1977," Waguespack said. "When we get in contact with him we're going to have to see if he's off a few years."

New Orleans police said that if they find a case that matches Browne's description they will try to interview him in Colorado.

After the New Orleans murder, Browne described how he murdered a woman in Morgan City. The two met in a bar, left and wound up on a dock near a river. They had sex, he strangled her and dumped the body off the bridge.

State Police say they have no reports of a missing woman to match.


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Continuing Coverage
Victim's sister alleges cover up

July 29, 2006 01:07 PM EDT

Tonight, allegations of a cover up twenty-three years ago, in connection with confessed Ark-La-Tex serial killer Robert Browne.

The sister of one of Browne's possible victims is speaking exclusively to News 12, saying Browne could have been caught years ago.

Kathy Cole is raging, not only about how her sister was murdered, but even more about how she believes authorities handling the investigation, in the earlier eighties, tried to cover up the crime.

"She was a little fighter. She didn't give up easily. She was barely one hundred pounds soaking wet, but she had the heart of a tiger," says Cole. "And was she an angel? No. I don't know any angels, but she close enough for me.

Now days, this is about as close as Cole can get to her sister Aline.

"That was Aline just before she disappeared," says Cole, looking at a picture of her sister.

Flash back to March 30, 1983; Faye Aline Self disappears.

Now, fast forward to Thursday, authorities say Robert Charles Browne confesses to murdering Self. He lived next door to her in Coushatta Louisiana, at an apartment complex owned by his brother, where he worked as the maintenance man.

"I think the level of incompetence at the Sheriffs office at the time she disappeared is criminal," says Cole.

She claims the people leading the investigation knew the suspect, a little too well.

"I'm talking about Kerwin Browne, who was the Sheriff at the time, who told me to my face she probably ran off with some guy. I'm talking about Ronald Brown, who was the investigator who investigated the murder that his son has now admitted to doing. Now, what better way to cover up evidence than have your father investigate it on the property owned by your brother.

Cole believes Browne's confession, but questions some of the details.

"For instance, she was at the Wagon Wheel with friends and people that she worked with. They said she left the bar to go home and pick up the baby. The baby was at my mother's house. He says he was wandering around the complex later on he found an open door and went in and she was in the bed asleep, and he killed her basically. How did he she get from the bar? Her car was still at the bar.

Authorities have not been able to answer that question, or find Aline Self's body.

For Kathy Cole, the answer of what happened, finally means some sense of closure, but no measure of gratitude.

"I'm not grateful to him for anything. Because we had to wait for an answer to something that he caused. So, why should I be grateful that he gave me an answer after 23 years.

No, I hate him!"


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Did Browne Really Murder 48?
A convicted killer in Colorado now claims to have killed 48 people across America over the past 30 years. Is he telling the truth?
By Paul Tolme
Special to Newsweek
Updated: 12:34 p.m. ET July 30, 2006
July 30, 2006 - If Colorado convict Robert Charles Browne's claim to have killed 48 people over three decades is true, he would rank among the nation's most prolific serial killers. But is he really a mass murderer? Verifying that he is responsible for all of the deaths, some of which took place more than 30 years ago, will be a difficult task. And there's no guarantee that Browne's claims are on the level. "It should be no surprise that serial killers sometimes lie," says James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminologist and author of six books about serial killers.

False confessions are common, Fox says. "Once they are in custody facing life imprisonment or death,"—Browne is serving two life sentences in Colorado—"there is no disincentive to start bragging about other crimes." And dissembling can result in better treatment, personal amusement, sometimes even the ability to leave the prison confines for a while. In the early 1990s a Mississippi man named Donald Leroy Evans, already convicted of a murder, claimed to have killed about 70 people. He led police and the FBI to Texas and Arizona looking for bodies. "He led the police on a complete wild goose chase," says Fox. "It was just a lie."

Browne claims to have killed 17 people in Louisiana, nine in Colorado, seven in Texas, five in Arkansas, three in Mississippi, two each in New Mexico, Oklahoma and California, and one in Washington. Some were strangled, others shot. According to Browne, his weapons include a knife, screwdriver and ice pick; he cut up some of the victims and dumped their bodies in lakes, rivers, trash bins and ditches.

But how can police determine whether or not he's simply making it all up? Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler and author of "The Unknown Darkness: Profiling the Predators Among Us," says authorities must carefully scrutinize the details Browne provides. "Is he giving them exclusive knowledge, facts only the killer could know, or is he vague? If he's vague, that should set off alarm bells."

McCrary participated in the investigation of a serial killer in Rochester, N.Y., whose claims proved true. Found with a corpse, Arthur Shawcross was questioned about other local murders and confessed to 10. "It was cat and mouse in the interview but eventually he rolled over," McCrary says. Authorities were able to cross-validate his claims. "He knew facts that only a killer would know, such as how the victim was killed." Authorities also found carpet fibers from his car on some of the victims. "It was the postconfession validation that was key."

And even if Browne is truthful in some instances, that doesn't mean everything he says is true. "There's an old Italian proverb: a little truth helps the lies go down," McCrary says: "He apparently has done some murders, but just because some of what he says is true doesn't mean everything is true.

Browne, 53, provided the first cryptic clues to his crime spree in a taunting letter to El Paso county prosecutors in 2000 while service life without parole in the Colorado state prison in Colorado Springs for the kidnap and murder of 13-year-old Colorado girl Heather Dawn Church in 1991. "The score is you[,] one, the other team[,] 48," Browne wrote from his cell. The letter piqued the interest of some cold-case volunteers who call themselves the Apple Dumping Gang. The group includes 79-year-old Charlie Hess, a former FBI and CIA agent, and Lou Smit, 71, who worked on the JonBenet Ramsey murder. Smit became interested in Browne after he learned that two women in Browne's hometown of Coushatta, La., were murdered in an apartment complex where Browne worked as a maintenance man.

Hess wrote to and then met with Browne. Four years of conversations eventually produced the confessions. In one that has been verified, Browne admitted to killing Colorado woman Rocio Sperry. Browne provided details about Sperry's marriage that could have only been obtained through direct conversation. Browne also described a ring he took from her finger and later sold; the El Paso County Sheriff's Office confirmed that story with the ring's buyer. Browne pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in Sperry's death and was given a second life sentence.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says Browne could be exaggerating but authorities must proceed as if the claims are true. Of the 48 murders claimed, Browne has provided information in just 19. Of that number, Maketa says Browne is a "strong suspect" in seven. Verifying the claims is an exhaustive process. "It's not like we sit down with him every day and he answers all our questions," says Maketa. "We have not been able to extract any information from him that he doesn't want to supply. Sometimes he doesn't want to discuss cases and only wants to chat." Browne has claimed nine victims in Colorado but has provided information on just two.

Hess says he has no reason to distrust Browne. "He provided extensive details on the method of murder, location of body, in some instances how the victim was dressed," Hess says. "In some cases he even drew maps." El Paso County officers contacted the jurisdictions where the murders took place and verified details in seven of the cases. "In those seven cases, the locations were all right on the money. The method of killing was in order. We didn't find any major discrepancies."

Hess describes Browne as being intelligent and respectful. "He never swears. He's courteous." He spoke with Browne for 30 minutes on Friday but did not discuss murders. Browne's attorney in the Sperry case has requested that authorities hold off on the questioning for now. Hess expects Browne will open up once again in the future. "I think we have a lot more to learn."

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14105799/


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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"Robert I knew is gone"
Confession shakes those who knew killer
By Joey Bunch, Jennifer Brown and Erin Emery
Denver Post Staff Writers
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated:07/30/2006 03:37:55 AM MDT

Coushatta, La. - After Wanda Faye Hudson was killed in what some folks call the "bloodiest murder that ever happened in this town," it was handyman Robert Charles Browne's job to clean up the apartment.

Vickie Woods helped her friend.

"Blood was everywhere, I mean everywhere," Woods recalled. "I won't ever forget it."

When Browne's brother couldn't rent the tainted apartment, Browne moved in.

"He said, 'I ain't afraid of a ghost,"' Woods recalled.

Now this town of 2,200 on the lazy Red River knows that Browne, one of their own, may have killed Hudson, two other women in town and 46 others.

Investigators in Colorado last week revealed that Browne, who is serving a life sentence for murdering a 13-year-old Colorado girl, has claimed killing 48 other people.

He says the murder spree started in the early 1970s and spanned South Korea and nine states until he was convicted in 1995.

Browne says 14 of those killings were in Louisiana, and law enforcement officials have linked him to the Coushatta slayings of 15-year-old Katherine Jean Hayes in 1980, 25-year-old Fay Self in 1983 and 21-year-old Hudson in 1983.

"I feel like I've lost a friend," said Woods, standing amid the rundown clapboard cottages where she had been a neighbor and close friend of Browne's since childhood.

"I feel like the Robert I knew is gone," she said, "and this monster who did this was left behind."

The son of a sheriff's deputy, Browne was known to be handsome and neatly dressed, a loner who was born on Halloween in 1952.

He loved to scare women and children with gory masks and creepy noises made outside their doors on autumn nights.

Sheriff Johnny Ray Norman, a former teacher, said Browne was smart but a loner with deep, smoldering issues when it came to women.

Browne grew up in poverty in the shadow of eight older, popular siblings in a town where half the population lives below the federal poverty level.

Norman says he sees now that Browne fit the perfect profile of a serial killer, if only anyone had connected the dots.

Betty Walker, 69, knew all the victims in Coushatta, and she knows all Browne's family, she said from behind the counter at Janelle's Speedy Pizza in Coushatta.

She guesses his stint in the Army, after he dropped out of high school in 1969, turned him from humble Louisiana farm boy to bloodthirsty killer, because nothing else makes sense.

Browne was dishonorably discharged from the Army for drug use. He told investigators that he committed his first murder when he was 17, in 1970 or 1971 in Yongsan, South Korea.

Browne said he had a fight with another soldier who had become "jealous of a whore," and he broke his neck.

The claim has been referred to Army officials for investigation, El Paso County investigators said.

"After he got out of the Army in the mid-1970s, he came to Colorado Springs for a while, lived with a woman, a girlfriend in Manitou and Colorado Springs," said Jeff Nohr, an El Paso County sheriff's investigator who has interviewed Browne 22 times.

"He ultimately went back to Louisiana and ended up coming back here again," Nohr said. "He had driven through prior to moving here, going up into Washington and California."

Nohr said Browne had an array of jobs from driving trucks to working on oil rigs and fishing boats and in gas stations.

"What took him traveling," Nohr said, "when a lot of these cases occurred, he worked for an artificial-flower company making deliveries - different routes, different states, Louisiana and Texas."

Investigators say Browne claims to have killed Melody Bush with an ice pick in a Flatonia, Texas, motel room while on one of those trips in 1984.

That same year, he said, he strangled and then dismembered the body of Nidia (Bolivar) Mendoza, 17, outside Houston.

Browne moved back to Colorado in May 1986 and for a time worked selling beds.

Then while working as a clerk at the Kwik Stop on Murray Boulevard in Colorado Springs, Browne befriended Rocio Delpilar Sperry.

They went out one night in 1987, and he took her back to his apartment, where he says he strangled her with his bare hands. Her body has never been found.

On Thursday, Browne received a second life sentence when he pleaded guilty in El Paso County Court to murdering Sperry.

In September 1988 Browne married Diane Babbitts. The couple lived in Briargate, in northern Colorado Springs, until moving to Black Forest in early 1989.

Browne told investigators he has had six wives, though police said in some instances they were not married.

All were petite women, just like several of his victims. Investigators said all are still alive. In 1970, Browne married a 13-year- old Louisiana girl.

Three years later, he married a Vietnamese woman, and they had a son, now in the care of Browne's older sister.

In 1976, investigators said, Browne lived with a 24-year-old woman in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.

Browne married a 17-year-old Louisiana girl in 1977 and a 25-year-old from his home state in 1980.

Browne and Babbitts bought a mobile home on 8.9 acres in Black Forest and started the Golden Tree Venture company.

"He had his own tree farm. He was self- employed raising trees," Nohr said. "I believe his family was also involved in raising trees down in Louisiana."

Browne lived about a mile from Heather Dawn Church, 13, who was babysitting her brother, Sage, in September 1991 when she was abducted from her home.

Four years later, Browne was arrested for the murder. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Nohr said the home, outbuildings and the land around the house were searched at the time.

"Nothing was ever found," he said.

Former friends in Coushatta said Browne was no different from them on the outside.

"He was not a lick different than me growing up," said Charles Jones, a boyhood friend who became a Baptist deacon. "His path turned one way and mine turned another, I guess."

Sheriff Norman, who had been Browne's P.E. teacher in junior high, said that when money was scarce, the Browne children were farmed out for short periods to relatives who could better afford to keep them.

Emotionally, Browne blew hot and cold, often aloof, but barely able to restrain himself if he was fouled playing basketball, Norman said.

As he got older, he was detached from girls his age, the sheriff remembered.

"He was a good-looking kid, but you never saw him out running around with any girls as he came up," Norman said.

As he edged into his teenage years, Browne asked Sharon Gardner to go to the movies with him dozens of times.

Gardner says she always said no because he gave her "the willies."

"It wasn't anything that he did," said Gardner, who owns a walk-up burger joint, Bailey's Sandwich Shop, that she inherited from her parents. "He just had a look in his eyes."

"When you look at someone, there is usually emotions in their eyes," she said Friday. "I didn't see any in him."

Once, she lied and told him her aunt died to get out of going out with him, and her father scolded her for it.

Even after she turned him down, Browne would walk four or five paces behind her as she and her friends ate ice cream bars, and he would sit behind her at the theater.

Gardner remembers years later, when Browne and his brothers sat at a picnic table outside her shop, she was still too nervous to walk over and say hello.

Staff writer Joey Bunch can be reached at 303-820-1174 or jbunch@denverpost.com.


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Evan Semon © News

Tom Magham, 54, of Martin, La., points Sunday to a photo of his former schoolmate, present Cañon City inmate and Coushatta, La., native Robert Charles Browne, from a 1969 high school yearbook.

Killer's hometown wonders at news of multiple slayings
Disabled brother, an ex-Louisiana trooper, 'sorry to the families'

By David Montero and Julie Poppen, Rocky Mountain News
July 31, 2006

COUSHATTA, La. - The three- bedroom home where the killer was raised is gone - replaced recently by a park in a quiet ceremony honoring the service of a former local lawman.

The school where the killer first showed proficiency for math, a shortcoming in athletics and a weakness with women is older now - its brick exterior worn, the white paint flecked and, for the past 36 years, fully integrated.

And the people who share his last name from the Browne family tree are stunned into virtual silence, wondering what went wrong, how it went wrong and why.

"I'm sorry to the families," Donald Browne said.

He's one of Robert Charles Browne's older brothers and can't even bring himself to open the door to his small house next to the Dew Drop Inn just outside the city limits.

People here know that the recent turn of events eats away at the former Louisiana state trooper, who was shot in the line of duty in Shreveport more than a decade ago and must use a wheelchair.

That news broke Thursday. The news that Robert Charles Browne had confessed in prison to a second murder and is now believed to be linked in the killings of 47 other people throughout the United States.

"Oh, (Donald) feels bad, I know he does," Carl Frye said. "After Donald was injured, it was hard on him being in the wheelchair and all. He's very independent, you know.

"And now this."

Frye is 44 and knows about loss. He said his brother-in-law - a police officer - was shot while trying to bust a drug deal.

Standing outside the Dew Drop Inn, sweating and pushing up his large square glasses after cleaning the inside, he wondered what will happen to the Browne name.

It's a fair question in this place - a place where gossip grows and spreads as quickly as the plants around the swamp, and identity is forged through genes.

Remembering schoolmate

Tom Magham knew the Brownes - of course he did because the Maghams have been in these parts for generations. He remembered Robert Charles Browne in high school - pointing out his black and white mug shot in the yearbook with a stubby finger. Magham, 54, graduated in 1969 - the last year Browne attended Coushatta High School before joining the U.S. Army at 17 and being sent to Southeast Asia.

That's where Magham thinks things might have gone wrong, though he's also mindful of what happened with Browne's grandfather. He wonders if mental illness might help explain what happened.

The grandfather was the father of Buela Bamburg, Robert Charles Browne's mother. Raymond Browne, 58, Robert's brother, said his grandfather committed suicide by chaining his legs together and drowning himself in a well on his property.

Raymond Browne, one of the three sets of Browne twins and older brother to Robert, said he was 12 when the grandfather killed himself.

And even though that was a long time ago, people don't forget things like that. Just like they'll remember the name of Terrence Carter - a 27-year-old now facing the death penalty for taking a 5-year-old girl, tying her up to a chair, dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire in Coushatta.

"It's bad," Buddy Huckabay said.

In 1984, he ran for Red River Parish sheriff and won against Kerwin Brown - a man described by some as less-than-aggressive when it came to solving crimes. Both Huckabay and the current sheriff, Johnny Norman, said when Wanda Hudson was murdered in 1983, the files weren't even kept in the office. Huckabay said he ran his political campaign against Brown on solving the murder of Hudson, who was stabbed repeatedly in her apartment just blocks from the sheriff's office.

When they finally found the case files, they were stuffed in the back of a patrol car.

"That's the trouble," Norman complained. "We don't have any physical evidence."

Huckabay finally retired with the Hudson case unsolved. He regrets it to this day, but believes they worked hard at trying to close it. He said when he heard Browne claim he murdered Hudson, he leaned forward in his chair and wagged his finger.

"I'm going to be darn frank," he said. "It's a relief he confessed to it."

Family seen as good

The book on Browne - and the Brownes for that matter - was generally that they were a good family. Only one woman, who identified herself as an ex-wife of Robert Charles Browne, suggested they weren't. She stopped at a local gas station, said media descriptions given by another ex-wife, Rita Morgan, "weren't even close to how bad things were" involving him and then drove off in a hurry. She said the media coverage around Browne - including the revelation of names publicly - could provide him a list of new victims to pursue if he ever escaped.

That's not likely, local law enforcement officials say. And even if Browne were to come back, well, in Coushatta everyone knows everyone and he wouldn't slip under the radar for long.

Randy Thomas, a part-time deputy with the Red River Parish Sheriff's Department, remembered growing up in Coushatta - one of those places connected by alternately paved and unpaved roads. When he was a kid, he said there was only one paved road and two places to eat. For entertainment, he said they'd hang out at the Kream Cup until they got bored. Then they'd make the three-minute drive to the other side of town and hang out at Dan's Truck Stop.

He remembered seeing Robert Charles Browne as a kid, but remembered him more when he was dishonorably discharged from the Army in 1976 on a drug charge. But it was in the early '90s when Thomas, now 51, worked for a local Ford dealership that stuck in his mind.

Thomas used to drive cars from dealership to dealership - exchanges for customers looking for a different make or model - and said Browne took a truck for a test drive.

He never came back.

It was also the key point for law enforcement officials. Fingerprints from that case ultimately led police to link him to the murder of 13-year- old Heather Dawn Church in Colorado Springs.

Raymond Browne said that the auto theft was a sore spot between Donald and Robert Browne.

Happy memories

Raymond Browne hasn't been back to Coushatta for quite some time - content to live in Idaho as a systems accountant. But people remember him here.

"Raymond and Ruby," Norman said, citing the twins' names with ease.

Raymond Browne certainly remembers Coushatta.

The family had one car for a while, but went a long time without any vehicle when their dad was a deputy sheriff. Browne recalls hauling hay at 12 - doing whatever jobs they could do to help support the family and come up with money to buy a couple of bicycles. That was the year the family got its first television set.

They are happy memories for him. It's what he thinks about, despite the spotlight that has come to Cou-shatta and revealed a part of the past many thought had been buried - though never forgotten.

Hudson's mother, Syble Shaddox, went to church Sunday, and her son, James Shaddox, said she believes "God brought her closure."

Even those who don't have a personal stake in the three local murders believed to be connected to Robert Charles Browne are shaken by the revelations and have trouble squaring it with what they knew and what they know.

"They were good, average folk," Brenda Magham said.

Especially the father, who died in 1974, before any of those believed to have been murdered by Browne.

"My dad worked a lot, my mom was a great mom," Raymond Browne said. "I'm honored to have the parents I had and the things they taught me.

"That's why it's so frustrating what happened to Robert."

And what happened to the Brownes?

Donald Browne is essentially in hiding, besieged by media requests. His truck, complete with a crane in the back to hoist his wheelchair, is seldom home during the day.

Ronald Browne, another sibling in Coushatta, hasn't spoken. Other siblings haven't emerged either.

In the town - the summer sun so hot it makes clothes feel like they've just come out of the dryer - it's what people are talking about. Norman, a former college football player, is even readying for some national television appearances - even when law enforcement duty calls his team of deputies to solve a crisis on a nearby neighbor's lawn where a car has run off the road.

Just north on the same road, past telephone poles bearded with vines, is the lot where the Brownes were raised.

The park with a sign that ensures no one forgets the name of a onetime deputy sheriff.

Ronald O. Browne.


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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URL: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/loca...4884991,00.html

Evan Semon © News

James Shaddox, 38, right, with his uncle, Robert Watson, kneels at the Coushatta, La., gravesite of his sister, Wanda Hudson, on Monday evening. She was killed in 1983. Robert Charles Browne, serving a life sentence in Colorado in the 1991 kidnapping and murder of Heather Dawn Church, 13, and the 1987 murder of Rocio Sperry, 15, recently confessed to killing 47 others, including Hudson.

Profilers wary of murder claims
Experts: Professed serial killers often exaggerate crimes

By Sarah Langbein, Rocky Mountain News
August 1, 2006

Criminal profilers caution that self-professed serial killer Robert Charles Browne should not be taken at his word.

It will require more than his ramblings and often vague descriptions to prove whether he is one of the most prolific killers in the nation's history, they say.

"Each case, you have to evaluate on its own merits," said Brent Turvey, a criminal profiler, forensic scientist and author of Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis.

"A lot of (self-professed serial killers) want to be perceived as smarter, more prolific and tougher than they really are," he said.

If Browne's confessions prove true, he will surpass Gary Leon Ridgway, the Green River Killer, as the nation's worst serial killer.

Ridgway was convicted in 2003 of 48 murders.

Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler and author of The Unknown Darkness: Profiling the Predators Among Us, finds it highly suspicious that Browne claims 49 killings, upping Ridgway's total by one.

"Why that number?" McCrary asked. "You just have to be very careful and not rush to judgment."

It wouldn't be the first time that a killer made himself out to be more infamous than he really was.

Henry Lee Lucas enjoyed the attention he received while on death row. Lucas, a drifter, confessed to hundreds of killings in the 1980s that were later found to be untrue.

Only facts will determine whether Browne took the lives of 49 people or whether he's exaggerating his past, McCrary said.

"It's our job to find the facts to support that (confession) or refute that," McCrary said.

"There's an old Italian proverb: A little bit of truth helps the lies go down.

"Can he give us exclusive knowledge of the killings? If he can, then we can put some weight and credibility into that."

Last Thursday, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office announced that it had reason to believe Browne killed in nine states and South Korea. They believe as many as nine victims were killed in Colorado.

When the news was made public, Browne, 53, already was serving a life sentence for the 1991 murder of Heather Dawn Church, of Black Forest. While behind bars for the 13-year-old's death, Browne gave investigators enough details to corroborate his role in seven other deaths, they say. He's pleaded guilty to one of those - the 1987 slaying of Colorado Springs mother Rocio Sperry, 15.

But in many of the cases, Browne barely knew the victims and provided so few details to authorities that investigators could not verify his stories.

That's a "bright, screaming warning" to Turvey, who said criminals embellish their stories for all types of reasons. In some cases, he said, they do it to get favors and special treatment.

"It's irresponsible to take these guys at face value," he said.

Turvey fears that some investigators will do just that to close unsolved cases and "put a big medal on their chests."

Robert Watson, the cousin of Wanda Hudson, one of Browne's suspected victims, said he believes the killer's confession.

"He's too thorough to be exaggerating, I think," Watson said from his home in Coushatta, La. "What does he have to lose? I don't know whether he's BS-ing or shooting a straight line."

Watson said he feels empathy for the families whose loved ones were never found.

"Even though we couldn't open the casket because she was mutilated so bad," Watson said of Hudson, "we still knew it was her. We had a casket. We were able to bury her."

He would like to see Browne face the death penalty for the sorrow and rage he's caused his and other families.

"Let justice be served," he said.


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Robert Browne Taped Interview From 1995

POSTED: 6:45 pm MDT August 8, 2006
UPDATED: 6:57 pm MDT August 8, 2006

DENVER -- Detectives: Have you ever been up to that house?

Browne: I don't think so. I don't recall any reason for ever being there. I've been to a number of places but I don't recall ever being there.

Detectives: That one should kinda stick out in everybody's mind, out on Eastonville? Alright. I mean I think I would remember if I ever been there or not.

Browne: I don't recall ever being there. I mean I can't think of any reason. I never... I do a little tree stuff, but I don't remember doing any trees there.

Detectives: you ever do any construction work?

Browne: Not in years. When I was younger I did, but I can't do the work any more.

Detectives: So you haven't been working like construction building a house down there or anything like that?

Browne: No, no.

Detectives: Did you do any type of maintenance work?

Browne: No.

Detectives: So, to your recollection you don't recall ever being in that house?

Browne: No.

Detectives: Been to that house?

Browne: I don't recall it, no. I can't think of any reason I would have been.

Detectives: Never did any work for the family down there?

Browne: No.

Detectives: Okay, never did any construction type of work down there?

Browne: No.

Detectives: Never like installed gutters, screens anything like that down there?

Browne: I haven't done any construction in years. I don't know. I don't think.. No, I'm pretty sure I haven't.

Detectives: Well, seeing as all the attention that house has got and everybody on Eastonville road knows about that, you would remember that wouldn't ya? If you had.

Browne: I would think so. I would think so.

Detectives: Obviously, Robert, we came with a warrant for your arrest. We had a reason for that. We have your fingerprints inside that house.

Browne: That's impossible.

Detectives: I'm afraid it is possible and we have more than just one. So that's why we're here. We want to listen to your explanation. I think this thing has probably been on your mind for a while and we want to listen to your explanation of that.

Browne: I don't believe you have any fingerprints of mine there. I mean it's not possible. You may have somebody's that are similar to mine, but you don't have mine. I wish you would take mine again and compare them.

Detectives: We've compared them several times. We got your fingerprints from the Louisiana state police. You know, I'm telling them they are yours. I'm not conning you one bit here. We wouldn't be able to show up with a warrant for you if we didn't have something. You know how it all works, right?

Browne: I know how it's supposed to work, but there's got to be some kind of mistake. There's no way.

Detectives: When did you live on that property back then, on Eastonville?

Browne: September of... I believe it was 80... 80? I'm sorry, 90. It was 90... yeah...

This is to do with the murder of Heather Dawn Church


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Louisiana officials interview killer
Associated Press
Thursday, September 7, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS — Louisiana authorities have arrived in Colorado Springs to interview Robert Browne, who confessed to as many as 49 murders dating back to the 1970s, including three in the Coushatta, La., area.

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Red River Parish Sheriff Johnny Ray Norman, accompanied by two Louisiana State Police officials, was scheduled Thursday to interview Browne, who is serving two life terms for murder in Colorado.

Joe Breister, of the El Paso County sheriff's office, said Browne agreed to the interview.

"Robert provided us a letter that basically said, 'I'll talk to whoever I want to, whenever I want to,'" Breister said.

Authorities in Arkansas and Texas also are interested in meeting with Browne, he said.

Colorado authorities said in July that Browne, 53, claimed to have committed scores of killings ranging from California to Arkansas as well as South Korea between 1970 and his arrest in 1995.

In Louisiana, investigators are looking into Browne's activities in connection with three slayings: Wanda F. Hudson, 20, Coushatta, La., believed to have been killed in May 1983; Faye Self, 26, Coushatta, who was reported missing in March 1983 but her body was never found; and Katherine Jean "Fuzzy" Hayes, 15, Coushatta, whose body was found Oct. 16, 1980.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Killer's tales might be just that
By Kirk Mitchell
Denver Post Staff Writer
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated:03/11/2007 03:42:44 PM MDT

Convicted Colorado killer Robert Charles Browne's boasts of leaving four dozen victims strewn across the nation have never been proved, say police officials in several states, and some have concluded he's lying.

Browne, serving life in prison for two murders in El Paso County, has told investigators of 47 more killings in nine states and overseas.

His claims, news of which broke last July, sparked fresh hope among families and friends that the long-unsolved murders of their loved ones might finally be resolved. And Browne's willingness to talk about other killings was a key factor in sparing him from a death sentence.

But after detectives scurried from Arkansas to California to find body dump sites and pored over dusty case files, some say they now disbelieve Browne's claims. And in most of the killings claimed by Browne, authorities have no proof that a murder ever took place.

"Some of the things he said are not panning out," said Tela Mange of the Department of Public Safety in Texas, where Browne claims seven murders. "It's not uncommon. People will admit to things they didn't do."

Browne boasted that New Orleans was fertile ground for his murders, but "we haven't found any evidence to support any of the alleged murders he claims to have committed," said Officer Sabrina Richardson, spokeswoman for the New Orleans Police Department.

Too soon to decide?

That inability to verify Browne's claims is echoed by investigators in several states who were interviewed by The Denver Post in recent weeks.

El Paso County authorities, who first called attention to Browne's murder claims last year, say it's too soon to dismiss them as fabrications.

Although El Paso County Sheriff's investigator Jeff Nohr admits the hunt for Browne's victims has been slow and discouraging, he said Browne has been proven to be truthful in at least one murder.

"I think it would be dangerous to assume he is lying" about other killings, Nohr said. "I cannot say and will not say Browne lied to us about anything."

Browne is held in segregation at the Territorial Correctional Facility in Cañon City and was unavailable for an interview.

In 1995, the self-employed tree farmer was sentenced to life in prison in the 1991 kidnapping and killing of 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church, who lived near him in the Black Forest area. Browne said he pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.

He dropped his first hint of more victims in a cryptic March 2000 letter to prosecutors: "The score is, you one, the other team 48." The letter added: "Seven sacred virgins entombed side by side, those less worthy are scattered wide."

In 2002, Browne began corresponding with Charlie Hess, a former FBI and CIA officer who served as a volunteer for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office Investigations Division.

He teased authorities for the next four years about a string of 48 murders that he claimed began in South Korea in 1970 and continued for decades across nine states. If true, it would make Browne one of the worst serial killers in U.S. history.

Last summer, El Paso County investigators announced they found enough evidence to convict Browne in one of those 48 cases, the murder of 15-year-old Rocio Delpilar Sperry of Colorado Springs, although her body was never found. Again, a plea deal meant Browne would not face the death penalty.

But Sperry's husband, Joseph Sperry, said last week that he never would have agreed with the plea bargain in his wife's murder if he had known the killer claimed to have dismembered his wife's body and thrown it into a trash bin, as he learned after Browne's sentencing.

"He deserves the death penalty," Joseph Sperry said.

Browne's boasts triggered a search for links to the remaining 47 murders he claims.

Last July, El Paso County District Attorney John Newsome said Browne provided enough evidence in some murder cases that authorities wouldn't need more information from him to obtain convictions.

Yet so far, local authorities have not charged Browne or definitively linked him to any of the other murders he claims.

Investigators have confirmed that seven of those 47 murders actually occurred, in Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. But they haven't found proof of a murder in the other 40 claimed cases, including seven in Colorado.

Some officials say Browne has offered them no information about crimes in their jurisdictions that only the killer would have. In some cases, they say, he has offered only details that would be available from news accounts; in other cases, his statements conflict with the facts.

"I think he would have to tell something more than the average Joe would know, but he hasn't done that," said Sheriff Johnny Ray Norman of Red River Parish, La.

Browne claimed he murdered Faye Self, 26, Wanda Faye Hudson, 20, and Katherine "Fuzzy" Jean Hayes, 15, in Norman's jurisdiction, where Browne grew up.

But Nohr said the Louisiana State Patrol is still investigating the cases, and claims Browne did provide evidence that only a killer would know.

Hess, who is writing about police volunteers in a book that describes his contact with Browne, noted that Browne claimed to have strangled 17-year-old Nidia Mendoza, whose dismembered body was found in a ditch in 1984 in Sugar Land, Texas. Hess said Browne described how he decapitated Mendoza and cut off her legs in a bathtub before authorities released those details.

But Browne has not yet been charged in that case. Both Hess and Sugar Land authorities say test results have not come in yet to confirm whether fingernail scrapings and other DNA evidence taken from clothing link Browne to the murder.

Details hard to come by

In explaining why Browne's murder claims have not led to the discovery of a single body, Hess said Browne may not recall exact details and locations years later. He said Browne was an opportunistic killer who in many cases spent only a few minutes with victims he met on lonely country roads where he had never been before. And according to Hess, Browne also said he had so many victims and was drinking heavily at the time.

Investigators in Louisiana have been especially busy looking into Browne's accounts of 17 murders in the state, but their efforts so far have been futile.

In a cryptic May 20, 2003, letter to Hess, Browne said New Orleans was "very fertile ground" between 1975 and 1979. One of his claims was very specific:

"Left inside a room inside a Holiday Inn; about five minutes from the French Quarter," Browne wrote. "This lady claimed to be from South Phily (sic)."

But New Orleans detectives have found no case matching that description, said Richardson, of the New Orleans police.

Browne also claimed that in 1983 he met a woman at the Hill Top Bar near Natchitoches, La., and took her to a motel where he killed her, said Travis Trammel, a detective with the Natchitoches Parish sheriff's office.

"We have been unable to corroborate Mr. Browne's claims, not any of them," Trammel said.

In Arkansas, Browne has provided information about only one of the five murders he claims in the state, said Sgt. Barry Roy of the Arkansas State Patrol. And even in that case, Browne's story of killing a young prostitute and dumping her body in a marsh couldn't be verified.

"No one has ever found a body in that marsh," Roy said.

"If Browne could give me one case in Arkansas that I can verify, then we're getting somewhere."

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia
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Man who claimed 49 killings in at least 7 states, including La., still being investigated
July 28, 2007
Article's Tools:

The Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A convicted killer's stunning claim that he was responsible for up to 49 slayings has rekindled investigations in at least seven states, but no new charges have been filed since his account was made public a year ago.

Authorities in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana say they are reviewing Robert Charles Browne's claims, The Gazette newspaper reported Friday.

Louisiana authorities interviewed Browne about several killings.

Red River Sheriff Johnny Ray Norman said his deputies were disappointed by the information they got. But prosecutor William Jones said the cases are still being investigated by Louisiana state police.

Officials in four other states have ruled him out as a suspect or dropped their investigations for lack of evidence.

It was unclear whether or when Browne might be charged. And some investigators said they are proceeding with care.

"It's not like he's out walking the streets," said police Capt. Gary Cox of Sugar Land, Texas, where Browne claimed to have killed 17-year-old Nidia Mendoza in 1984.

Browne, 54, is serving two life sentences in Colorado for the murders of Heather Dawn Church, 13, in 1991 and Rocio Sperry, 15, in 1987.

In July 2006, the El Paso County Sheriff's Department revealed Browne had told a team of retired investigators he was responsible for 17 slayings in Louisiana, nine in Colorado, seven in Texas, five in Arkansas, three in Mississippi, two each in California, New Mexico and Oklahoma, one in Washington state and one in South Korea.

The killings date to 1970.

Cox said investigators in Sugar Land believe Browne is "likely" responsible for killing Mendoza. He said authorities are awaiting the results of a second round of DNA tests before deciding whether to prosecute.

"Based on the information we have, his statements and supporting evidence, he is the likely person responsible," Cox said. "We are able to verify everything he said. We can substantiate his confession."

Arkansas state police Sgt. Barry Roy said Browne has been ruled out as a suspect in the 1991 death of Lisa Lowe, but he remains under investigation in other deaths.

Investigators are awaiting a chance to interview Browne further before proceeding, he said.

Oklahoma authorities ruled Browne out as a suspect in a 1992 killing in Tulsa, and New Mexico authorities dropped an investigation into Browne's claim that he killed a man there in 1993 because they did not find a body.

Authorities in Washington state and Mendocino County, Calif., said they had no record of three people Browne claimed he shot to death in 1986.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said he was disappointed that some agencies have said they don't have the resources to pursue the slayings Browne has claimed. "I believe there is real strong potential to clear five or six cases."


“Thou shalt not be a victim.
Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.
Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

(On a plaque at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.)
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