A homeless Navy veteran was reportedly charged with the kidnapping of a Virginia Beach teen whose body was later found behind a church more than 300 miles away.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced Wednesday that Eric Brian Brown, 45, was charged in connection with Ashanti Billie’s disappearance. Billie, 19, was reported missing on September 18 after she failed to show up for her shift at Blimpie, a sandwich shop located on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Norfolk.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a landscaper found Billie’s body behind the East Stonewall AME Zion Church in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 29—about 300 miles from where she was last seen alive 11 days earlier.
Though authorities haven’t revealed a cause or manner of death, The Virginian-Pilot described the victim’s body as “battered.” The paper also reported that prosecutors said that her body was located 300 yards from Brown’s childhood home and on a property where Brown attended vacation Bible school as a child.
WRC noted that Brown would have access to the base where Billie was last seen alive. The suspect worked as a day laborer and helped to build the sandwich shop where the slain teen worked, according to WAVY.
I know it's small, but this is the press release from DOJ, giving details of the allegations against Eric Brown in the Ashanti Billie case pic.twitter.com/UK0PmO14et
— Laura Geller (@13LauraGeller) November 8, 2017
In an arrest affidavit obtained by WRC, prosecutors stated that Brown is homeless and “lives at random facilities and buildings on and off the naval bases.” They also alleged that the suspect would visit the Blimpie every day and interacted with Billie.
Witnesses recalled Brown “attempting to flirt with Billie” on multiple instances. One witness claimed that Brown made a “crude sexual comment” to her, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also claimed that Brown’s DNA matched two samples recovered from Billie’s clothing, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Authorities said that cell phone and video evidence, among other factors, also linked Brown to the crime.
Alarmingly, the suspect allegedly told a law enforcement officer on October 2 that he hated African-American women, calling them “gold diggers” who “only want guys with all the money,” court documents revealed.
WAVY reported that Brown also told agents on October 27 that he was on the base on the night of September 17 but claimed to have blacked out for several days and couldn’t remember if he harmed the teen.
The undercarriage of Billie’s Mini Cooper, which volunteers found five miles from her job on September 23, was reportedly covered in debris and dirt. WAVY reported that agents also located her pants in the vehicle and that the dirt on them was consistent with them being removed while on the ground.
Brown has been jailed in Virginia Beach for the past month on unrelated charges, including residing in a bawdy place, solicitation of prostitution, and trespassing. Those charges have since been dropped, according to reports.
The retired Navy veteran faces life in prison if convicted.
[Featured Image: Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office/FBI]