A homeless, retired Navy veteran was arrested for the kidnapping and death of 19-year-old Ashanti Billie on a naval base in Virginia.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced Wednesday that 45-year-old Eric Brian Brown was charged with kidnapping and murder.
Brown is accused of abducting Billie as she arrived for work at the Blimpie’s sandwich shop on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, near Norfolk, Va. According to court documents, surveillance video showed Billie driving her car onto the base at 4:58 a.m. on Sept. 18. Just 35 minutes later, surveillance video showed someone else drive it off the base.
Billie’s body was found 11 days later in a wooded area behind a church in Charlotte, NC—about 300 yards from Brown’s childhood home.
She was 19 years old. Billie was from Prince George’s County, Md. and had just moved to Hampton Roads, Va. to start culinary school.
According to court documents, this past summer, Brown helped build the Blimpie’s where Billie worked. Coworkers said he visited the sub shop almost every day and remember seeing him try to flirt with Billie on several occasions. One witness remembered hearing a conversation where Brown made a crude sexual remark directed to her.
Brown—who spent 21 years in the Navy—was seen so often near the Blimpie’s and surrounding buildings that that Billie’s coworkers thought he worked on the base.
Instead, he was homeless, investigators said, and lived in random facilities and buildings on and off the base.
During an interview with investigators after Billie’s body was found, Brown told agents he was on the Little Creek base the evening of Sept. 17, but blacked out and had no memory of what he did for several days after that. When talking about Billie’s murder, investigators said Brown couldn’t remember if he did anything to her.
Brown’s DNA was found on two pieces of clothing that Billie was wearing when she was killed, investigators said. He may face life in prison if convicted.