A former Navy officer has been charged in the death of 19-year-old art student Ashanti Billie.
On Wednesday, 45-year-old Eric Brian Brown was charged with federal kidnapping and murder in Billie’s disappearance and subsequent death.
The body of the Art Institute of Virginia Beach student was found outside of a church in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sept. 29. She’d been missing for 11 days. Billie, the daughter of two veterans, was discovered 300 miles away from her job at a Virginia naval base where she was last seen.
Brown was seen attempting to flirt with Billie on multiple occasions during her shifts at the Blimpie sandwich shop on the Joint Expeditionary Base. He reportedly visited the shop every day and a witness said he even made a “crude sexual comment” toward the young woman. Billie’s father Meltony Billie said Brown, who was also homeless and worked as a day laborer around the base, preyed on his young daughter.
“How was it that this guy was allowed to roam around base?” he asked.
Billie’s mother Brandy Billie told WKTR-TV what it was like to see her daughter’s alleged killer for the first time.
“I never actually pictured what he looked like beforehand,” she said. “To see it it’s like looking at a monster or an animal. I don’t see a person when I look at him, I seen an animal, just evil.”
Court documents claim Brown told a law enforcement official that he despised Black women and said they were “gold diggers” who “only want guys with all the money” in early October just days after her body was found.
DNA found on the young woman’s body match Brown’s DNA. On the kidnapping charge alone, Brown could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.