Linda Brown was murdered on March 19th, 1985 and the main suspects were the people that lived in the home. Everyone had different stories about what took place and Linda's stepdaughter, 14-year-old Cinnamon Brown was convicted. Years later, it was discovered that Cinnamon was the shooter, but she didn't act alone. The murder plot was orchestrated by her father, David.
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BOOK: If You Really Loved Me by Ann Rule
Ocean Breeze Drive is located just minutes from police headquarters in Florida. Garden Grove patrol officer Darrow Halligan was almost at the end of his shift at 3:26 AM on March 19th, 1985. He was on late night watch and it was about 40 to 45 degrees out, so he was in his car with the heater on. He heard a radio call “possible 187” homicide at 12551 Ocean Breeze Drive. Officer Halligan was only a few streets away, so he headed over. He arrived at the home and it was eerily quiet. No screaming, no yelling, nothing. That seemed unusual for a homicide call. His radio went off again. The victim was inside the house with a gunshot wound. The dispatcher said, “I have the informant on the phone with me now. The suspect is not in the residence.” The porch light was out, but Halligan saw lights in the front window. A man met him at the door with tears on his cheeks and a young blond woman was holding a crying baby in her arms. The man said, “I think my wife's been shot. She's in the bedroom. I'm afraid to go look.” He asks the officer if he could go check it out. Officer Halligan wondered why this man believed his wife was shot if he hadn't even seen her. He grabbed his flashlight and began heading towards the bedroom door. When he pushed the door open, he heard a gurgle.
A female with long hair was lying on her back. Blood was flowing from her chest and her right arm was hanging off the side of the bed and her left hand was by her ear. Blood stained the woman's lips and chin and a blanket was covering her from the waist down and it was smooth and flat, as in, no struggle. Other officers came rushing to the scene and were about to move the woman to see if they could save her. They snapped a few pictures quickly to make sure they had evidence of how they found her first. The woman was gasping for air as the crew worked rapidly to help her. A revolver with a two-inch barrel was on the carpet between the door the hall and the bed. Once the woman was stabilized, she was rushed to the hospital, but she was later pronounced dead. The woman was named Linda Marie Brown and she was 23 years old.
Detectives began combing through the home and noticed that everything was brand new. Maybe they were able to afford anything they wanted? It made the home feel as if there wasn't any history. Like things were just added there overnight. Every room was crowded with brand new furniture. On the dryer, there were three empty prescription pill bottles lying on their sides and the caps were off.
Two bottles of Darvocet N (opioid for relieving pain)
Dyazide high blood pressure
The detectives needed to figure out who was in the home when Linda Brown was shot. The people in the house were saying they believed Linda's daughter, Cinnamon Brown was the shooter. After hearing the gunshots, they saw someone who looked like Cinnamon heading out the back door and now she's gone. There were two adults, two teenagers, and a baby that lived in this home. Linda Brown and her husband, David Brown were the adults. 17 year old Patricia Bailey who was Linda's sister, their daughter, Cinnamon Brown who was 14, and the baby was named Krystal.
David Brown told the police that Cinnamon or Cinny as he liked to call her, had a lot of anger issues. She also talked to her imaginary friends, Maynard, Oscar, and Aunt Bertha, more than she talked to real friends. He had divorced Cinnamon's mom ten years prior and she was pretty much bouncing back and forth between them. He tried to talk her into counseling, but she threatened to end her life. David said that the day before this, they had all planned to go out the the desert for a picnic, but it rained. The detective noted that David remembered things very precisely, but seemed to get all fuzzy when he was asked certain things. He said they ended up playing Uno, but Cinnamon got irritated and headed out to her trailer in the backyard. He said that his wife, Linda had kicked her out and she had to stay in a trailer outside because they couldn't get along. He said she refused to help with chores around the house and she wasn't getting along with her siblings either. Cinnamon was allowed to come in the house for meals and she could watch TV.
That night, David and Linda had an argument. They made up and went to bed, but he wasn't able to sleep since he was still upset. He decided to go out for a drive. He stopped to buy some snacks and comic books, then headed to the beach and stopped at a Denny's just to use the bathroom. He arrived home to a dark house and complete chaos inside. David wasn't in the home when the shooting actually took place, so he wasn't the best witness. Patricia Bailey was the only other person that was there. Patricia said that Cinnamon did argue a lot with the rest of the family members. She noticed that she really began pulling away from the family after Christmas and even discussed suicide in January.
Patti recalled that Cinnamon asked her if she could sleep inside in her room on a rollout cot on March 17th and 18th. Patti said that was fine and felt like Cinnamon really need to tell her something...like something was wrong, but she didn't know what was going on. Patti said that on the night of the shooting, she was heading to bed and Cinnamon showed her a small grey gun in her hand. She asked Patti how it worked and said she needed to know, just in case someone breaks in. She kept saying an emergency might come up and she may need to know how to shoot the gun. Patti said she had only seen it on TV and explained that you cock it back and pull the trigger. Even though she was uncomfortable, they had grown up around guns. Patti went to sleep around midnight and woke up to a gunshot in her room and she saw Cinnamon next to her bed and she ran out. Then she heard a second and third gunshot in the house less than a minute later. The baby woke up crying and Patti ran to her room, grabbed her, and sat against the door to hold it shut. Later, she heard a quiet knock on the front door and then keys were jangling as David arrived home. Now, David apparently can't stand the sight of blood, so he refused to go check on his wife and he sent Patti outside to look for Cinnamon. David proceeded to call his father to tell him they needed help and then he called the police afterwards. Patti Bailey heard two gentle knocks on the front door, but David Brown said he never knocked, he had a key. The security alarm was always set, but somehow didn't go off on the night of the murder. The alarm was controlled with a key and a code that needed to be punched in every single time it was armed or disarmed. How did Cinnamon leave the house without setting the alarm? If David left the house in the middle of the night, wouldn't he have set the alarm when his wife and children are inside? Cinnamon didn't have a house key, so she would have needed to force her way in unless her father forgot to turn on the alarm and forgot to lock the doors.
Detectives started calling Cinnamon's friends and no one knew where she could be. Her best friend, Krista Taber said she was grounded a lot, she wasn't allowed to give out her address, and most of her friends couldn't even have her phone number. Cinnamon had a friend in the neighborhood that liked to make up silly things to say. They would call people sheep dip or say things like, you rowdy poopster. She was a normal kid. As they searched the home, they confirmed that there hadn't been any forced entry. The Brown family had four dogs that barked like crazy. If the killer was a stranger, and not Cinnamon, they should have been pretty noisy. Detective McLean went inside the dog pen to look around and noticed that one of the dog houses wasn't empty. Someone small was curled up in the fetal position. He whispered, Cinnamon? Whoever was in that dog house was alive and made a noise. The detective reached his hand out and a small hand grabbed it. Cinnamon crawled out of the dog house wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants stained with vomit and urine. The detective looked in the doghouse and saw that the floor was covered with vomit and there were about three dozen orange capsules in the reddish pool of vomit. Cinnamon didn't hide, she clung to the detective. Detective McLean unrolled a piece of pink cardboard that she had been clutching in her hand. He untied the purple ribbon and read, “Dear God, please forgive me. I didn't mean to hurt her.”
Cinnamon was brought to the police station and she complained of a terrible headache and continued to vomit bright orange. She said she had taken three bottles of pills and one might have been a tranquilizer. If she consumed all the pills in the three bottles they found on the dryer, that's 260 pills. She asked if her dad was alright and they said he was fine. Cinnamon asked how Linda was and they didn't respond right away. They got her cleaned up and began the actual interview. Cinnamon said she knew she was there because she hurt Linda. When she was told that Linda was dead, she was genuinely shocked, but agreed to tell the officer what happened.
He asked her why she didn't live with her mother and she said because I'm a brat. He's like, well, what makes you a brat? She said, I go to the beach every day to get a tan with my friend, Krista. Cinnamon said she got along well with her father, but Linda didn't like her and moved her out to the trailer. She said Linda wanted her to move far away from the house and said if she didn't leave the house by the time she woke up, she'd kill her. Cinnamon said that Linda was jealous of how close she was with her father. She didn't like all the attention he gave her and that's why they never got along. She also mentioned that Linda sometimes hit the baby and this upset Cinnamon. It was difficult to interview her because she kept fading in and out. She was deathly sick from all of the pills. She whispered, “please don't let them get away with murder.” Cinnamon said that the day prior, when Linda threatened to kill her, that was the first time she had ever said something like that. It hurt her because she thought Linda loved her and they began arguing.
Cinnamon said she shot three shots. One in Patti's room, and two in Linda's room. She found the gun in her father's office, but claimed she never asked Patti how to use a gun. She said they used to go out shooting in the desert, she already knew how to use a gun. Cinnamon was to weak to carry on and had to go to the hospital. She continuously blurted out certain sentences as if they had been programmed into her. Haven't slept in 24 hours, killed my stepmother, didn't mean to, she was hurting me, she hated me, she wanted to kill me, she wanted me out of the house, I got the gun out of the office drawer. She wasn't being questioned at the hospital. An nurse was watching over her, taking notes, but wasn't responding. The nurse didn't know that she was spitting out the same sentences she gave during the interview.
So, here's where we're at. Cinnamon has confessed to the murder. She's a 14 year old girl who was the child of David's first marriage. Her mom didn't seem to want her and her stepmother had a new baby and there wasn't room in the house for her any longer, so she had to live in a rusty trailer. She had dolls and care bears all over the place. The trailer was broken down and full of old things....but everything inside the home was new. Cinnamon wasn't doing well in the hospital. She had ingested so many pills, they weren't sure if she'd make it, but she finally woke up and was booked in the Orange County Juvenile Hall.
The detectives needed to find out who Cinnamon really was before the murder took place. They went to her school, but the principal said she had just recently transferred there, had been absent most days and they hardly knew her. She hadn't even been assigned a locker yet at the school. Her home economics teacher was able to give them a quiz she had taken so they could compare the handwriting with the note Cinnamon was clutching in the doghouse. They were able to prove that the handwriting was a match. The detectives talked to Cinnamon's best friend Krista again and she said that every time Cinnamon talked back to Linda, she got more restrictions. She was currently on restriction for three months for talking back. No visits, no phone calls, and she often lost TV privileges too. She said that she knew Cinnamon often slept in Patti's room at night, but would sleep in the trailer when she got in a fight with someone. Also, on the weekends, her father locked her in the backyard. They have a fence around the trailer that gets locked. Cinnamon's friends painted a picture of a very obedient child who lived under strict rules. At her previous school, teachers said she had a great personality, was well liked and was a sweet kid. There was even a blind girl that transferred in and Cinnamon went out of her way to help her. There was one teacher that said they noticed a change in Cinnamon's behavior and grades after Christmas. Something had drastically changed in her.
When detectives spoke to Cinnamon's mother, Brenda, she said the divorce was pretty awful. David had an affair and a day after she left him, he showed up at her apartment and threatened her. She said she was afraid of David. She was like oh, by the way, David was just here. He showed up with Patti and told her that Cinnamon overdosed on drugs, detectives were coming to talk to her, and she shouldn't tell them that Cinnamon was a good, behaved girl. She said that she was very close with her daughter and they share secrets. Cinnamon told her that her stepmother was actually afraid of David. She also told her that she felt like a slave at the house and did all the chores, but Patti didn't have to any. She told her mother that one time, she, David, and Patti came home and overheard Linda talking to her brother about getting rid of David. The three of them crept out of the house and pretended they didn't hear anything. Cinnamon told her mom that Linda was afraid David would leave her for her sister, Patti and that David told her he'd hire a detective to follow Linda. David was notorious for going after very young girls.
Linda's twin brother talked to detectives and said that Patti was the one causing friction in the Brown house, not Cinnamon. He knew that Patti had a crush on David and she was very jealous of Linda. Are you keeping up here? There's a lot of different stories being told. A few of Linda's friends said that she told them something was going on between David and her sister, she was sure of it. She told her friends that she tried to get Patti out of the house because she was ruining their marriage, but David wouldn't allow this. They said that after Christmas, Linda really changed. She became cold and alienated. David was listening in on her calls and had speakerphones all over the house to pick up everyone's conversations. Patti and David were questioned again and they both pretty much gave the same stories, but Patti said that she remembered the back door was unlocked on the night of the murder. That would mean that David had left the house unlocked without an alarm when he went out for a drive. She also said Cinnamon was crazy jealous over the baby.
Cinnamon was evaluated and the doctor decided she was so depressed that she didn't understand the act of the murder she committed. They also said she didn't know the difference between right or wrong at the time of the murder. This would pretty much ensure that Cinnamon would end up in a mental hospital, not prison. The case could have pretty much been dropped here, but detectives felt that something was wrong. The stories weren't adding up and they wondered if someone else was involved.
Cinnamon remained in Juvenile hall and her father continuously visited her. When the doctor examined her for the second time in July of 1985, she didn't recognize him and she completely blocked out all memory of the murder. She said, if they say I killed Linda, I want to be in a mental hospital. The doctor believed she suffered from amnesia from all of the trauma she endured, along with dissociative disorder and depression.
Linda's funeral took place on March 22nd. The family went back to the murder house afterwards and began cleaning the house out because David said it was too painful to keep her things in the house. David began contacting a friend of Linda's named Denise and said he needed help with the baby and asked that she come stay at the house. Denise agreed, but was very uncomfortable when David suggested that she share a bed with him and Patti and he would sleep in between the girls. They did end up in the same bed, but Patti was in the middle and Denise felt that David was acting very sexual. He began inviting more people to stay at the house and Patti was getting extremely jealous. Soon, people were noticing Patti's strange behavior and began wondering if she was the killer, not Cinnamon. It almost seemed as if Patti was replacing Linda at home. She sat in Linda's chair and she wore her clothes and jewelry. Linda's photos around the home were disappearing and Patti's photos were replacing them. If Patti was the killer, why would Cinnamon confess, overdose on pills, and have a note in her handwriting saying she did it.
The family had a few close friends, but David made sure they stayed very private. The neighbors didn't seem to know anything about the family. David didn't like to live in one place for too long and often moved the family to different rental homes. There was a local bank that he frequented, but most transactions were done in cash. One of the tellers who helped him often, decided to ask what his business was and he told her he recovered data from damaged computers for large firms for the US government and said, “I'm the only one in American who can provide this service.”
As detectives were working this case, there was one thing that kept bugging them. Antimony (anti-mo-knee) is the primer used in the cartridge of a bullet. When a gun is fired, gases and components of the primer are released. Linda had deposits of antimony on her hands and that's to be expected. The shooter should have also had this on their hands. Tests were done that night and Patti and David were positive for antimony and Cinnamon was negative. To be fair, Cinnamon had laid in her vomit all night, so it could easily explain why the evidence had been ruined, but it was still odd.
Cinnamon was going to be tried as a juvenile in this case, but they ended up throwing out her entire confession. It was argued that Cinnamon was under the influence of painkillers when she was questioned. So, they had no confession and not a lot of real evidence. The trial for first-degree murder began on August 7th and her father, David wasn't present because he claimed he was ill. Cinnamon Brown was found guilty of first degree murder. Judge Fitzgerald sentenced her to 27 years to life and he recommended that she go to California Youth Authority facility Ventura School, so she could get psychiatric treatment. In this facility, youth offenders typically don't complete their full sentence, the average is about 6 years. Either way, the case was closed and Cinnamon was the convicted killer. Some of the people that worked this case just couldn't drop it. They couldn't accept that this was the correct ending to the story.
Detectives couldn't understand why the people in the house had very different stories than the people outside of the Brown house. Friends and family insisted that Cinnamon wasn't the problem and she wasn't forced to live in the trailer because she was bratty. She was in the trailer because Patti insisted that she needed her own room and didn't want to share with Cinnamon. People were saying that David always gave Patti what she wanted. Patti wasn't even allowed to handle baby Krystal on her own because she had previously killed Cinnamon's puppy. Patti was very smug when Cinnamon got in trouble all the time and was competitive with her.
Investigator, Jay Newell resigned from the Sherrifs Office and signed on with the Orange County District Attorney's Office and began working the Juvenile homicides in 1981. Cinnamon's case was still gnawing at him and in his spare time, Jay Newell began digging into David Brown's life a bit. He found many people that were willing to describe David Brown and they said he was a ladies' man. Linda was his fifth wife and he dated several women in between those marriages as well. He was a jealous, possessive, and sensitive man. He was also highly controlling and sexual, demanding sex three times a day. He made sure that women felt very dependent on him and repeatedly reminded them that they couldn't make it on their own. They needed him. When David was married to Cinnamon's mom, Brenda, he wouldn't allow her to go out with her friends on her own. She was forbidden. If you didn't obey his rules, you didn't stay around long. David wanted to be the center of attention, was greedy, and liked material things. He was mainly attracted to young girls in their teens and the relationships would only last a few years. Once they got too old for him, he was onto the next one. There was actually a reoccurring theme where David told many people that he was dying and would magically get better. At one point, he dated Pam Bailey and she was about ten years younger than he was. Then, he moved on to her 13 year old sister, Linda (the one who was murdered) and then moved to her younger sister, Patti.
David started his own company called Data Recovery and he was able to help many companies recover data. He developed his own secret process for recovering information and it was making him a lot of money. I'm not sure if you noticed that I've mentioned Christmas a few times in the story. Linda's friends mentioned she got really weird around Christmas and that's also when people say Cinnamon had changed. Christmas vacation was when Patti officially moved into the Brown house.
Even though David was making a ton of money, he was obsessed with getting upgraded equipment and used insurance companies to get that. When his ATV was crashed and had minor damage, he pushed it off a cliff and filed a claim. He had several car accidents and collected the insurance money. He even sued a grocery store and claimed he tripped over an extension cord. Cinnamon recalled a time where they went to a store and she went to catch up with her father and saw David and Patti kissing. Cinnamon started crying and ran away and her father chased her and said it was an accident. She wanted to tell her stepmother, Linda what she had seen, but her dad made her promise not to tell.
Immediately after Linda's funeral, David actually bought himself an expensive sports car and ordered vanity plates that said Data Rec. Over the next three years, he purchased fifteen expensive vehicles. He and Patti were in a VERY small accident where the report showed that there were some scratches. The person that hit them had their foot accidentally slide off the break, so it was just a bump into their vehicle. David and Patti claimed they got whiplash and went to tons of physical therapy appointments. The insurance company was forced to pay a buttload of money, so they began their own investigation. After the claims were paid, the company realized that the computer records no longer showed that David had a $100k medical policy. In fact, the company didn't even offer this kind of policy. It looked like someone had illegally accessed the company computer system and updated David's policy, then erased it after the claim was paid. The investigator checked files for previous claims they knew David collected on and they were also missing. Now, who has sophisticated skills when it comes to computer systems? Allstate never filed charges against David or Patti for this. David continued to work hard keeping his life very private, but didn't realize how obsessed Investigator Newell had really become. David moved his family from home to home and changed cars often, but Newell kept up.
Each year, around Christmas, Cinnamon would go before the parole board and parole was denied. She still had no memory of the murder, but believed she couldn't be guilty. On December 12, 1985, parole was denied, but her date was tentatively set for September of 1992 which was 7 years away. The parole board kept suggesting that Cinnamon get therapy, but she refused. She enjoyed the facility, had very good behavior and was getting good grades in school. She also truly believed that she would be set free soon. She wanted to go home and had no idea that in the summer of 1986, she had a new stepmother, Patti Bailey. He told her he was dying and didn't want baby Krystal to be alone. Patti became David's 6th wife, but the circumstances are really strange. They went with another couple to Vegas and both couples planned to get married. David had Patti sign a prenup that basically said he got everything. Then, the two of them falsified a ton of information on the application so they wouldn't legally be married. He also refused to allow Patti to tell any of her family members that they got married.
In September of 1976, it was recommended again that Cinnamon get psychological counseling. She kept refusing for the simple fact that she didn't know how she could deal with something that she flat didn't remember. During one of Cinnamon's exams, she said that her grandfather, Arthur Brown said something interesting during their recent visit. Her grandfather told her that he knew who really killed Linda and he planned to tell when the time was right. They requested to have the grandfather interviewed to find out exactly what he meant by this. Jay Newell was still investigating this case in his free time and he realized that when he went over the scripts of all of Cinnamon's confessions, the language was repetitive. It seemed almost like she had memorized a script, then had her memory wiped.
Jay Newell headed to the home to speak to the grandfather, but knew he couldn't get caught by David. He saw the grandfather in the yard by himself and attempted to question him, but he was very nervous. He kept trying to back away, but mentioned that he typically wasn't allowed to visit Cinnamon without David being present, but he did stop by recently on his own. The grandfather said that he overheard a conversation with Patti where she said she would get rid of Linda, even if she had to do it herself. That happened two weeks before Linda was murdered. David DID drive up at this point and Jay Newell pretended to be a real estate agent that was selling homes in the neighborhood. He wasn't ready for David to figure things out, but the grandfather couldn't lie to his son. He told him that is was Jay that stopped by the house and he lost his shit. David forced Patti to bring him the wedding certificate and the prenup. He tore them up and forced Patti to burn the pieces in the BBQ.
David had always been obsessed with knowing everything all the time, but he was getting worse. He got a beeper for Patti so he could check on her all the time. She wasn't allowed to leave the house without him, and if he left, he called the beeper to make sure she was at the house. In February of 1987, Patti said she may be pregnant and David told her she was getting an abortion. She absolutely refused and this was the first time she had ever said no to David. As Patti's belly grew, David's stories did too. He began telling people that the baby wasn't his, she got pregnant by some Greek guy named Doug who lived near Betsy Stubbs. He even began buying flowers for Patti and would put cards inside from Doug. When she gave birth in September of 1987, David made Patti pay the hospital bill herself and he refused to acknowledge baby Heather.
At the Ventura School, Cinnamon had participated in every educational program that the offered, minus group therapy of course. She felt that it would be really uncomfortable because everyone would be openly discussion their offenses and trying to deal with things and she would keep saying, I'm innocent and can't remember anything. All of the tests she took showed that she wasn't hostile, she didn't have a troubled personality, and she was well functioning. In the beginning of her sentence, her father visited a lot and would grill her about the questions she was asked and kept telling her not to say anything. Just tell them you don't remember. Over time, David was visiting less and less and Cinnamon started catching him in lies as she was growing more mature.
David would often tell Cinnamon that he couldn't visit her because he was sick and in the hospital. She would call home to check on him and her grandparents would answer and tell her where David really was. Investigator Jay Newell really wanted to talk to Cinnamon, but he couldn't. Since she was still a minor, he would have to ask David's permission to speak with her and that wasn't happening. He decided to pass information to Cinnamon's parole officer. He started taking photos of the expensive new homes and vehicles that Patti and David lived in. David and Patti had everything, and Cinnamon had nothing. Jay was persistent in working this case during his spare time and finally, he caught a break.
Resources: If You Really Love Me: Ann Rule