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DNA evidence places suspect in Ashanti Billie’s murder inside her car, FBI agent says

Eric Brown, charged with murder and kidnapping in the death of Ashanti Billie. (Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Additional DNA evidence has been uncovered that places the man accused of killing Ashanti Billie inside of her car, an FBI agent testified on Tuesday.

FBI Special Agent James Faulkner testified in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia that Eric Brian Brown’s DNA was recovered from the steering wheel, gear shift, turn signals and lights of 19-year-old Billie’s Mini Cooper.

Faulkner added that the evidence is consistent with the belief that 45-year-old Brown drove Billie’s car after she disappeared from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story on Sept. 18.

Brown, a U.S. Navy veteran, is charged federally with kidnapping Billie. In Charlotte, N.C., police have also charged him with murdering the college student, whose partially-clothed body was found on Sept. 29 in tall grass located next to a church Brown went to as a kid and 300 yards away from his childhood home, according to court documents.

On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard found probable cause to uphold the federal charge against Brown. Brown also waived his right to a detention hearing and is currently being held in the Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

Other evidence against Brown includes his DNA, which was also found on her body, and his internet history which showed that although he used his wireless devices nearly every day, he didn’t on the day Billie went missing. When he did get back online, he searched for terms like “police looking for man” and “missing woman and man,” according to court documents.

The FBI, Virginia Beach and Norfolk police departments also followed Brown for several days before he was arrested and charged with trespassing on Sept. 30 after allegedly walking up and down Interstate 64 ramps.

While they were following him, officials say Brown acted erratically. He allegedly tried to open up the doors to cars that did not belong to him and flag down drivers on another Navy base. He also confronted an officer who was trailing him and asked if he was being followed. Brown told the officer that he’d been followed before by someone who wanted to harvest his organs, Faulkner testified.

Faulkner said that he and another FBI agent questioned Brown for about nine hours on two dates. During both interrogations, Brown waived his Miranda rights, and after one interview he gave his DNA willingly to the FBI.

When he was interviewed by police, he said that he blacked out on the night of Sept. 17 and couldn’t remember anything he’d done for several days. He also said that he couldn’t confirm or deny having kidnapped Billie, court documents state.

“I have a forgiving heart,” Billie’s father, Meltony, said in front of the federal courthouse Tuesday. “Justice will be served.”

This story is breaking. Check back with Southside Daily for updates today.

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