Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Enigmatic Case of Robert Charles Browne

None Got Away

Of the 48 supposed murders, Browne had provided information in 19, and even with those, much in his accounts was vague. He had been considered a viable suspect in only seven more, but in these he'd provided solid details. Of the nine supposed victims in Colorado, he'd supplied information in only two cases. The first person he said he had killed was male, a soldier in South Korea in 1970. That case could not be verified.

Robert Charles Browne during his service in the Army
Robert Charles Browne during his service in the Army

There were a number of unsolved homicides in the areas Browne claimed as his killing ground, and many families hoped for closure about their missing or murdered loved ones. Detectives in different jurisdictions looked into their case files to try to determine if Browne could be their man. They were well aware that he might have read news accounts about their victims and could then report names, dates, and other items to falsely link him, if he so chose. They knew well enough to be careful not to feed him more.

Wanda Faye Hudson
Wanda Faye Hudson

One potential victim was Katherine Jean Hayes, whose remains had been discovered in Winn Parish, La., in 1981, six months after she had disappeared from a restaurant. Another woman, Wanda Hudson, had been murdered in 1983 in her apartment, where Browne had worked as a handyman. He said he'd attacked her with a screwdriver. Faye Self had gone missing from the same apartment complex in 1983. Browne claimed he killed her in her apartment and then took her body out to the Red River, dumping it. He made the same claim about another woman from Louisiana, unnamed because the authorities were unable to corroborate it: Browne's details were too vague.

Katherine Jean Hayes
Katherine Jean Hayes

The same was reported about a few other cases that Browne claimed. During interviews, he was unable to give sufficient detail to assist significantly. More than one officer expressed reservations about Browne's grandiose claims, but Browne frequently clammed up and refused to say any more. He was the one in the driver's seat.

Browne wrote a letter in 2002 in which he hinted that he might have kidnapped someone to hold her in a concealed chamber, but then he had been incarcerated. Since he could not get to her to feed her, she presumably died. Would he then be held responsible? If so, then "three should be added to the nine."

He followed this with a letter the year after in which he stated he did not know why he was writing these letters. "I am trying to get my affairs in order," he wrote. "To do so, I need to contact many sources of which I don't even know who they are." He mentioned that the sanitation companies "do a great job of disposal" and claimed that "None ever got away; never gave the opportunity. If you're going to do it, just do it." He stated that he found women untrustworthy and that what generally triggered a murder was "disgust with the person." He viewed women as cheating whores and users, although it was never made clear why he had taken such a dim view.

As months passed without much progress, many people began to question whether Browne was the killer he claimed or more of a con man.

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