A Navy veteran believed to be homeless has been arrested and charged with kidnapping after a woman whom he reportedly flirted with regularly went missing from a Virginia military base before turning up dead days later.
Eric Brian Brown, a 45-year-old who served in the Navy for 21 years, is accused of abducting 19-year-old Ashanti Billie on her way into work at a Blimpie sandwich shop on the Norfolk base, reports CNN.
She disappeared on Sept. 18, and her body was found on Sept. 29 in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the same area where Brown grew up.
Brown, who worked on the construction of the restaurant, reportedly visited the shop nearly every day and would spend most of his time in buildings nearby. Witnesses said that he would often flirt with [Ashanti] and on at least one occasion "made a crude sexual comment directly to [Ashanti]," said the Justice Department, according to CNN.
"Brown told agents he was on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek on the evening of September 17, and that at one point he blacked out and had no recollection of what he did for several days after that," said the department. "When discussing the abduction and murder of Billie, Brown confirmed that he could not remember if he did anything to [Ashanti]."
The web history on Brown's phone shows searches that include "police looking for man," "Norfolk police looking for man in connection with homicide," "amber alert sept 2017," "missing woman and baby," "missing woman and man" and "parents of a missing college student" on Sept. 19 and 21, the Justice Department said.
On Nov. 9, Ashanti's family, Brandy and Meltony Billie, spoke to the media at a press conference, stating that they were glad Brown had been caught and that they want to make sure that something like this never happens again, especially on a military base, which they thought was much safer than surrounding areas, notes WAVY.
"We still have a lot of answers that we're looking for," said her mom. "We're concerned. We're concerned for the safety on the naval base here. We're concerned for the safety in the community. If this was allowed to occur on a naval base, it can happen anywhere."
Brown reportedly had a valid ID card that got him onto the base with no problems, and nobody had ever reported him to authorities.
Meltony said that his daughter suffered from seizures, so she wasn't able to join the military herself but got a job on the base so that she could give back to that community.
If convicted of kidnapping, Brown could face life in prison. WAVY reports that Brown has also been charged with murder.