New Year’s slay­ing case closed by po­lice

They say sus­pect who com­mit­ted sui­cide killed Esme Barrera.

Austin American-Statesman - - B METRO & STATE - Byjazmine Ul­loa jul­loa@states­ Esme Es­mer­alda ‘Esme’ Barrera, 29, was killed last New Year’s Eve at her home.

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.

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