Police have charged a homeless Navy veteran in the killing of Ashanti Billie, the 19-year-old who disappeared from a Virginia naval base in September.
Eric Brian Brown, 45, was arrested on an unrelated trespassing charge in October, after which police grew suspicious and questioned him about Billie’s disappearance.
Brown is described as a day laborer who frequently ate at the restaurant where Billie worked and repeatedly tried to flirt with her, according to the Associated Press. Billie, a student at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, went missing in mid-September after failing to show up for work at her restaurant job on the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia. Her body was later found by a church almost 300-miles away in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“He preyed on her,” Ashanti Billie's father, Meltony Billie, told NBC Washington.
Brown resembled the man seen driving the victim’s car on surveillance video the day she went missing. The same man was caught on tape throwing Billie’s cellphone in the trash. The phone was later discovered by construction workers, CBS News reports.
The victim’s body was also found, steps away from Brown’s childhood home in Charlotte, according to police. They have also established that Brown's DNA profile matched DNA recovered from Billie's body.
When questioned about Billie’s disappearance, Brown claims he had no recollection of the days surrounding the incident because he blacked out. He also told a law enforcement informant that he hated African-American women, calling them“gold diggers” who “only want guys with all the money,” court documents say.
He now faces up to life in prison if convicted on the kidnapping charge.