Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Enigmatic Case of Robert Charles Browne

Doubts Remain

A year after Browne's startling confession, a reporter for the Shreveport Times decided to check in on what was happening with the investigation. While authorities were reviewing the claims he'd made, several deputies had expressed disappointment. Investigators in four states had dropped their investigations altogether or ruled Browne out as a viable suspect. In Washington, investigators had searched in vain for evidence of a woman killed at a scenic overlook between Spokane and Seattle. While three murders in Louisiana appear to match details Browne provided, he's not been charged. In fact, as of July 2007 no new charges had been filed since those for the murder of Rocio Sperry.

Nidia Mendoza
Nidia Mendoza

One promising case involves Nidia Mendoza, who was murdered in 1984. She was a dancer in Houston, Texas, and was seen leaving one night with three men. Her body was found four days later. The case went cold until Browne's confession. He described a young woman like Nidia and apparently provided details that had not been made public. At the time, he had been driving a white van to make silk flower deliveries. He claimed to have accompanied her from the club, taken her to a motel for sex, and strangled her. He then supposedly dismembered and beheaded her, taking the parts away in a suitcase. He dumped them off a highway exactly where they were found. He might be good for half a dozen murders, perhaps even the "nine" he'd once suggested, but that's as far as authorities have come in making a case.

In many ways, it doesn't matter: he's in prison for life. But it does matter to the families, who want to know that the person who killed their loved one has been caught and is being punished.

Robert Charles Browne 2006
Robert Charles Browne 2006

Hess declines to say whether Browne opened up because he wants to clear his conscience. It's a common belief that the guilty suffer and need to get their guilt off their chests. That's not true, however, for a psychopath. Browne grants information, it seems, when there's something to be gained medical treatment or a possible transfer. Despite his attempt to barter information for a different prison, he will most likely serve out his sentence in Colorado State Penitentiary. It's unlikely that he'll ever be known as the most prolific serial killer in America. His claim to fame is receding quickly.

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