Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Quest for Freedom: The True Story of Roy Brown

New Information

Just as Brown was about to give up hope, he came across information concerning the Freedom of Information Act. As it turned out, losing all of his documents was a blessing in disguise, for he learned that not only did he have a right to request all of the trial transcripts, he also had the right to receive copies of all the information that the District Attorney's Office had compiled on his case.

When Brown received all of the case files the next year, he was shocked to discover that police had initially focused their investigation on Barry Bench, the volunteer firefighter who had discovered the body. The information piqued Brown's interest, and the more he learned about Bench, the more he wondered why Bench had not been arrested for Sabina's murder.

Bench had knowledge of the victim; his brother had lived with her for over 17 years, and after their breakup, his brother had left the family's farmhouse to her, something that Brown suspected had not sat too well with Bench. On top of all that, Bench was the person who had discovered Sabina's body. Brown couldn't help but wonder why none of this information had been brought up at his trial and why his lawyers had not been made aware of this.

On December 24, 2003, Brown filed a motion to overturn his conviction based upon the new-found evidence. Unfortunately, his motion was denied and he was returned to his cell at Elmira to determine his next move.

In a bold move, Brown wrote Bench a letter, in which he accused him of Sabina's murder. Brown also wrote that, with the advances in DNA technology, there was no place for him to hide anymore. Brown later admitted that he was not sure if the tactic was the right thing to do; at the time he still wasn't 100% sure that Bench was guilty. Nonetheless, he had a gut feeling that he was on the right track, so he mailed the letter and patiently awaited a response.

Five days later, Brown, watching the evening news, learned that Bench had committed suicide. Witnesses at the scene stated that Bench had thrown his body in front of an oncoming Amtrak train. Brown was dumbfounded by the news. He had never wanted to make Bench kill himself; he just wanted his freedom. The incident did, however, convince Brown that Bench was the real killer.


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