New Year’s slaying case closed by police
They say suspect who committed suicide killed Esme Barrera.
Less than two weeks from the anniversary of her death on New Year’s Day, Austin police officials said they have closed the case of Esmeralda Barrera, a special education assistant and camp counselor whose passion for music and helping others endeared her to many across the city.
At a news conference Thursday, Police Chief Art Acevedo said a lengthy investigation had generated nearly 300 tips and led detectives to examine more than 80 suspects. But he said all the evidence pointed to James Loren Brown as the person responsible for the slaying, a 25year-old man whom Acevedo called a coward for assaulting women and taking his own life days after killing Barrera.
Barrera’s family might never get the closure of a full trial, Acevedo said, but Brown would have been convicted had he still been alive. “We are absolutely confident in our conclusion; we are absolutely confident in our investigation,” Acevedo said. “We promised we would leave no stone unturned, and today I am here to tell you that that promise has been kept.”
Police named Brown as the prime suspect in the case in late January after they said he committed suicide early that month and his body was found Jan. 12. Investigators said they had linked him through DNA evidence to another assault that occurred hours after Barrera’s death and attacks on women jogging in South Austin last year.