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Barrera Killer Dead?

Brown committed suicide in his home, mere blocks from Barrera's

By Jordan Smith, Fri., Feb. 3, 2012

James Loren Brown
James Loren Brown

Austin Police say a likely suspect in the murder of Esme Barrera is dead.

At a Jan. 26 press conference, police said that 25-year-old James Loren Brown has been linked through DNA to a series of attacks on women – including one around 5am on New Year's Day in the 300 block of East 31st Street, which happened just hours after Bar­rera was killed in her King Street cottage a few blocks west. Brown has also been linked to four additional assaults in Central Austin – including three in July on South Congress and on Barton Springs Road, and a fourth in Septem­ber at Comal and Haskell streets. He is now being investigated as a suspect in the attack on King Street and in Bar­rera's murder; there is a "considerable" amount of investigative work yet to be completed before police can say definitively whether he was responsible for Barrera's murder, says APD.

Police say Brown was found earlier this month in his home in the 3000 block of Guadalupe – not far from where Barrera was murdered just after 2:30am on Jan. 1. Brown was found dead by his roommate, having apparently committed suicide.

Another woman was attacked just steps from Barrera's home about a half-hour before the murder. That woman described her attacker to police, who generated a sketch that was widely distributed across Austin in the hopes that a suspect in the murder would be found. Police say that a detective and crime scene specialist noticed that a photo of Brown found in his home resembled the sketch of the suspect described by the woman attacked before Barrera's murder on New Year's Day.

Barrera was a well-liked fixture of the Austin music scene who worked with kids with special needs at Casis Elementary School and was studying for her teaching certificate. For more on her and the New Year's Day attacks, see "Excited About Life," Jan. 13.

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