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
Part 1 recap: Linda Brown had been murdered in the middle of the night and something didn't seem right with the stories police were being told. At first glance, all of the evidence pointed to the murderer being Linda's 14 year old stepdaughter, Cinnamon. She was the one that admitted to shooting Linda and she took a bunch of pills and was discovered in a doghouse covered in vomit. She was clutching a note that read, “Dear God, please forgive me, I didn't mean to hurt her.” Cinnamon was convicted and sent to Juvenile hall and that really should have been the end of this story, the case was closed. An investigator, Jay Newel just couldn't drop this case. He decided to keep working it on his off time because he knew there was a missing piece to the puzzle.
Jay Newell discovered that Linda's husband, David Brown had received an abnormal amount of life insurance money from her death and he believed that David was also hooking up with her younger sister, Patti Bailey. It just seemed like a 14 year old couldn't have orchestrated the murder herself. Was someone else involved? Did Cinnamon really kill Linda? If so, what was the motive? We ended part 1 by talking about how much Jay wanted to speak with Cinnamon, but he wasn't allowed because she was a minor and he would need her father's permission. He started sending photos to her parole officer to show her David's new expensive homes and vehicles and he ended up finally catching a break.
On July 19th, 1988, Jay Newell received a call from Cinnamon's parole officer and they said, I've got someone that wants to talk to you. It was Cinnamon. The first thing she asked was, “Will I be protected, or will my father be listening?” Jay confirmed that her father, David was not on the call. Cinnamon said, “He was in the wrong for what he did, and I was too young to realize it. I know now that it's time for him to take the responsibility for the crime that's taken place....I was a little bit involved cause I knew what was going to happen-but I didn't actually do the murder.” She explained that David told her that Linda (stepmother) was going to kill him for insurance money. Her father told her that they had to come up with a way to get rid of Linda or he was going to leave town. It turned into this family bonding thing where David would take Patti and Cinnamon out for several drives and they would talk about ways to dispose of Linda. They talked about throwing her out of the van while driving and hitting her over the head and knocking her out. Cinnamon listened to the discussions, but she said she wasn't part of murder. After Linda was killed, David told Cinnamon to tell everyone she did it, then he changed his mind and told her not to say anything at all. She was a child and she trusted him.
Cinnamon said the gun belonged to Linda and Patti wiped it off with a towel. She attempted to confront her father after she got sentenced, but he'd always change the subject and tell her she'd be out soon. As they talked, she brought up her father's new baby and the fact that Patti was the mother. This seemed to be the tidbit that shattered her faith and trust in her father. Cinnamon said that BEFORE Linda was shot, she heard her father drive away and she knew it was him because Patti didn't know how to drive yet. Now, this case was closed because they convicted Cinnamon. Jay Newell had to find someone to pitch this to and get this reopened. This case was not a slam dunk and it would be very difficult to win. He got permission to work the case and added Fred McLean to his team. Fred new this case well because he was the one that pulled Cinnamon out of the dog house after the murder. On August 10th, 1988 the pair were finally on their way to talk to Cinnamon in person and she had an interesting tale to tell.
Cinnamon said the whole thing started about 7 months prior to the murder. Patti announced that she overheard Linda on the phone with her twin saying she would kill David. Cinnamon didn't believe it, but David continuously began telling her that he knew it was true and she needed to believe him. He began acting paranoid after this and kept telling Cinnamon that Linda was going to try to kill him. It was during this time frame that Cinnamon had caught her father and Patti kissing in the store. This is when the conversations changed and Patti and David began discussing ways to kill Linda before she killed David. He kept telling Cinnamon if they didn't kill Linda, he would have to leave her and go start another family. She was a 14 year old kid who just didn't want her dad to abandon her. For several months, she didn't believe that they would really kill Linda like they discussed. One day, her dad told her the time had come and they needed her help. He asked Cinnamon how much she really loved him and if she would do anything for him to prove her love. He told her if she had the stomach for it, he wanted her to kill Linda, but Cinnamon said she couldn't do that. David said he didn't have the stomach for it either, but Patti did.
This was all supposed to be a big family secret between the three of them. One day, everyone went to visit a family member in the hospital. David's father, Arthur, pulled Cinnamon aside and asked if she knew about a plot between Linda and her twin brother to hurt David. Cinnamon said, she didn't know anything. Later, David brought it up in front of his dad and told him, remember the threat I told you about? And Patti said, we are thinking about taking care of it. They openly talked about pushing Linda out of the van on the drive home in front of David's father. He did tell them that wasn't a good idea and Cinnamon says he secretly warned her not to get involved because her father was a sick man and he was in the wrong. The problem was, David had been grooming Cinnamon for this and both he and Patti kept reminding her that she would help them if she really loved David. This made her feel incredibly guilty. The murder plot was brought up so often, that it just became normal to talk about. David told Cinnamon that she would do less time since she was younger and she would most likely just get sent to a psychiatrist because they would assume she was crazy for killing Linda.
The family planned a camping trip and David had Cinnamon load a box of guns, arrows, and other supplies, in the vehicle. David was acting strange and agitated during the drive and wouldn't allow anyone to talk. Linda got really frightened and demanded that they turn around and go home. It seems possible that Linda wasn't supposed to return home alive from this trip. Linda was murdered the next night. They really did have family members over and they played Uno like David and Patti originally stated. When the night was over, they all went to bed, Cinnamon fell asleep in Patti's room. David opened the door and told the girls they had to do it now. David had forced Cinnamon to write a note prior to this night. That's the one they found her with in the dog house that said, Dear God, please forgive me. I didn't mean to hurt her. After she wrote the note, David told her to hide it inside the trailer. David lead Cinnamon to the kitchen for a glass of water, handed her the pill bottles and forced her to take all the pills. David told her that it needed to look like she tried to take her own life.
Cinnamon obeyed her father, then set the water glass on the dryer. David turned the alarm off and told her to get the suicide note. She had written more than one trying to get it right, so he had her go burn them, then told her to get in the doghouse and wait. She heard a car door open and close and saw her father driving away. Next, she heard three gunshots, she started vomiting and didn't hear anything after that. At some point, David showed up outside the doghouse and kept repeating to Cinnamon that she did it. Just remember, if you love me, you'll say you did it. She believed she was protecting David and Patti, but she was also getting confused. David had been telling her she had to say she did it, then he changed his mind and kept telling her to say she didn't remember anything. He said it should work since she took so many pills, amnesia would be believable.
You may wonder why now? Why did Cinnamon finally want to speak up? Well, her grandparents had been telling Cinnamon everything that had been going on. Her father never told her he had a baby with Patti. Her grandparents kept telling her the truth and hoped that she would eventually lose faith in her father and it worked. She caught him in too many lies. David wouldn't even give Cinnamon his new address to send letters, he forced her to use a PO box and claimed he didn't want the district attorneys to know. As Cinnamon got older (she was 18 now), she felt that her father had manipulated her and knew it was wrong. She didn't think it was fair that she take all the responsibility for what happened. She mentioned that she heard there was a million dollar insurance policy on Linda and she asked her father about this. He said he didn't get any money because Linda was murdered, but that wasn't true, he definitely collected the money.
The story that Cinnamon told was wild, but it really did fit a lot of what they knew to be fact in this case. The problem was, Cinnamon's word alone wasn't going to do the trick in this case. They needed David to confess, so they asked Cinnamon if she would wear a wire during her next visit with her father and she agreed. David wasn't really coming around for visits often anymore, so Cinnamon was instructed to call him and say she needed to talk to him about something important right away. On Saturday August 13th, 1988, Cinnamon was wired and given specific instructions on what she needed to talk about. David arrived for the meeting and Cinnamon said she was feeling confused lately and wanted to talk to him about it. She said she felt that he lied to her about how long she'd really be locked up and he launched into a big story about himself and how his illnesses were ruining his life. She again tried asking him questions about the murder and he said well, Linda was doing drugs, more specifically, cocaine. He said that now her twin was stalking him and he has to get a new house so he could hide. He gave her an elaborate story about how Linda owed money do a dealer and they wanted to steal his Data Recovery business and the police found cocaine, PCP, and other drugs in the basement and in Linda's system. He told Cinnamon that it was in her autopsy report, but this wasn't true. David said Linda had been instructed to kill him for his business. He claimed that he was the one that found out who killed the shuttle Challenger crew and he's done work for the Pentagon. He also helped the country find the Stealth bomber and now the Mafia wants to control his business.
Cinnamon kept pressing him, she wanted David to say something incriminating, so she demanded the truth. He said if there was knowledge that Grandma, Grandpa, and Patti all had prior knowledge of this thing, they'd all go to jail. He said that he could do a trade for Cinnamon. If she continued to say she didn't know what happened, they could put all the blame on Patti instead. Then he told her that Grandpa Arthur was planning to kill Linda if they didn't do it. He was controlling the conversation and Cinnamon felt like she was crazy. She started crying and yelled at David. He suddenly realized he need ed to calm the situation ans was like ok, Patti did it. He acted like it was this big revelation. No wonder I've felt so different around her all this time. If I had known, I would have made her confess a long time ago, why didn't you tell me? He said the would just arrange to have Patti convicted because she was the one that had gunpowder on her hands. He said he believed all these years that Cinnamon murdered Linda, but now he was sure Patti did it.
On the next visit, David brought Patti with him. Cinnamon asked Patti if David told her everything from their last meeting. Did he tell you about the idea of trading places and having you convicted instead? The three of them began arguing about details from the night of the murder. Then, Patti and David were hit with amnesia and didn't remember anything from that night. David needed time to come up with his next story. He said that Linda was actually laying on his side of the bed on the night of the murder, so he now believes that someone went into the house intending to kill him, but accidentally got her.
The tapes were listened to over and over and investigators realized that Patti and David corroborated Cinnamon's story. The motive also felt much stronger for David and Patti. We previously talked about how David was big into insurance fraud and had been able to hack into a computer and create a policy once. Detectives wondered what insurance payout he really got from Linda's death. They were able to track down at least four policies and this didn't make sense. Linda was in her early twenties, no high school education, and she was a housewife. An insurance company wouldn't insure her for a million dollars because it wouldn't make any sense. An underwriter would review the application and say this is too much insurance. You have to be able to prove the loss a family would endure when they pass away. To insure someone for that amount when they aren't bringing an income to the family is outrageous. Now, instead of getting one policy for $1M which would immediately tip off the insurance company, David got 4 smaller policies from separate companies. Underwriters do check to see if you have other policies with a different company when you apply, but it either didn't work in this case, or David was able to hack his way in to the system again. David was the one making all of the money in the family, yet he didn't have any life insurance on himself.
Linda's life was insured with four policies and David Brown was the sole beneficiary on all of them. He collected the money shortly after her funeral and received $208,043.60 from American General, $361,833.08 from Capital Life, and $200k from New York Life. There was a 4th policy that was actually being underwritten when Linda was murdered. When you apply for insurance, you can bind coverage by paying the initial premium while they are working on your policy and David did that. Even though the policy wasn't accepted or completed yet, he was able to make a claim and get a settlement in court. They originally agreed on $50k, but David said that wasn't enough and he actually got $73,750. Linda wasn't the only one David had policies for though. He also took out policies on Patti, Cinnamon, and baby Krystal. If the last policy on Linda was actually inforce before the murder AND if Cinnamon had died from an overdose, David would have received over a million dollars.
At 6:39 AM, September 22nd, 1988, Jay Newell and Fred McLean met up because they had warrants in hand. David and Patti were arrested and didn't seem to have an initial reaction. They were put in the squad car and David began yelling that he needed help because he was claustrophobic. It should really come as no surprise that David didn't seem to have any memory of the day his wife was murdered when he was questioned. Then, he began talking about his sex life with Linda. They're asking about her murder, and he starts describing their sex life..... This is what he does to control the conversations. He changes the subject and rambles about things to distract you. Patti was interviewed next and she said a psychiatrist taught her how to block the night of the murder out, so she can't remember anything. As they were building the case, Cinnamon needed to be interviewed again to make sure everything in her story was true and she said it wasn't. There was more to it and she was ready to be honest. On the night of the murder, after Cinnamon was forced to take all the pills, her father told her she needed to shoot herself in the head after Linda was shot. She refused and he told her and Patti he was leaving and when he came back everything needed to be done.
David handed a gun and towel to Patti and she wiped the gun off and handed the gun to Cinnamon. She was handed a pillow to hold with the gun, went into Linda's room and fired the gun. The pillow got stuck in the gun and she ran to Patti for help because the trigger wouldn't work. They were struggling with it and the gun went off in Patti's room which explains why they originally found a bullet there. They heard Linda moaning and realized she wasn't dead, so Cinnamon ran back in the room and shot her again. That's when she grabbed the suicide note and crawled in the doghouse. She said she lied because she was so ashamed for shooting Linda and for loving her father.
David was up to his same old antics in jail. He wrote Patti several letters and kept reminding her what to say. When she stopped responding, he started telling her he was going to take his own life. He had no idea that Patti decided she no longer wanted to protect him. Patti was ready to tell investigators her side of the story. She recalled David talking nonstop about needing to kill Linda and told Patti she had to help to keep the family together. She verified Cinnamon's confession and explained that all she ever wanted was a family and David kept telling her the family would be ruined forever without her help. She admitted that her and David got married. Even though David made her burn the marriage certificate, the records can still be checked and the marriage was verified.
Cinnamon testified against her father on Monday, December 19th. David wasn't too shaken and he expected that she would turn on him. He never expected Patti to turn though. The truth began spilling out and she said that when she was 11 years old, David began telling her that he was having marital issues with Linda and would rather marry Patti someday. She had ended up living with David and Linda because she had been sexually abused in her own home, but David did the same things to her. She was having sex with David when she was 15 years old, so that's rape. Since Patti was only 17 when the murder happened, she was going to face charges in juvenile court, but they were asking that she be tried as an adult.
David was worried, so he began working on a plan of his own. He got close to someone in jail who was getting out soon. He wanted this person to burn down his house for the insurance money, then they were going to help him escape. David was going to pay this man for his services and they would head to Australia together. He also needed Jeoff Robinson and Jay Newell to die since they had been building a case against him and he also wanted Patti murdered. He also might want Cinnamon's mother, Brenda and her second husband killed. Richard Steinhart, the guy that was hired for this, was all in, until he read the newspaper one day. He read about David and how he sexually assaulted Patti and he said it struck him in the heart and he referred to David as a piece of kaka. Authorities were notified about this plan and they needed Steinhart to wear a wire to get a confession from David.
The whole plan was laid out and Steinhart had to ask David if he wanted the two cops dead or hurt and David replied, dead. Steinhart was soon moved to another jail, but he continued to help the police. When David thought he was making a collect call to his friend who was on the outside, he was really calling the Huntington Beach police. Steinhart had to play David and tell him that he was working on the escape plan and make him believe that he was getting out soon. The two men had phone call call after phone call to fine tune all the details of this plan and the first part was to put a female hit-person in the jail with Patti so she would die first. Oh, there was also a female visiting David saying she had been in jail with Patti and David was flirting it up with her, she was a cop. On a Monday, Steinhart excitedly told David that everything was done. The cops and Patti had been murdered. David responded with, I love you. Then he told Steinhart, oh I forgot to tell you that the investigator was armed, but I guess you didn't need to know. It seems that David never intended for his friend to survive the hit? Most likely because he didn't want to pay him.
It didn't take long for David to realize he had been duped and no one was actually dead. He waited to see the media coverage and nothing happened. On February 15th, David was charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit murder, three counts of solicitation to commit murder, solicitation to commit perjury, subordination of perjury, and conspiracy to commit arson. He may have been shocked that his friend turned on him, but no one was more shocked than Patti when she learned David tried to have her murdered. Her own family had already cut ties with her for killing her sister and now her husband left her.
Patti Bailey did plead guilty to her sister's murder and was sentenced to California Youth Authority until her 25th birthday and she was 21 at the time. Her case was heard in juvenile court since she was 17 at the time of the murder, she wasn't the one that pulled the trigger, and she had been sexually abused and brainwashed by David. The trial for David Brown was up next, but he wasn't done with his shenanigans. He tried to lure other people in by promising them money if they helped him. He wanted people to claim that he had been seduced and he didn't really want to have anyone killed. His goal was to discredit the case, plant the seed of doubt, and have the conspiracy charges all thrown out. David kept making deals with people and then he needed to give them money. He kept coming up with ways to get his parents to pull money from his account and give it to other prisoners and they followed his instructions.
Cinnamon and Patti testified against David and their stories matched up. Patti told about her secret sex life with David. They would have sex when Linda left the house or in the middle of the night while she slept. If she walked out of the room, David would wink at Patti or blow her a quick kiss. David denied everything and mentioned that if he was going to stage a murder, it would be much more sophisticated because he has such a vivid imagination. He turned on Patti and said he believed she was the killer and that he lived in constant fear of her. He also said he knew her and Cinnamon were plotting to murder Linda and he begged them to stop. Even though the jury heard about the life insurance policies on Linda, it was difficult to prove that it was the actual motive. The fourth policy on her was pending. If the actual motive was money, why didn't he wait until the last policy was inforce? If Cinnamon never vomited, it seems that David would have pulled off the perfect murder. It would have looked like a murder suicide and this thing would never have been investigated. The jury had the tough task of sifting through all of the facts and determining David Brown's fate. His prints weren't on the gun and he wasn't in the house when his wife was murdered.
The verdict was finally in for David. First-degree murder, guilty. Conspiracy to commit murder, guilty. The crimes were committed with the hope and expectation of financial gain, guilty. This case had already been closed, if it wasn't for Jay Newell, this would have never happened. Judge Donald McCartin sentenced David Brown to life without possibility of parole. David had basically established a cult within his family and he forced everyone to believe that they needed him. Their loyalty and trust was demanded. Everything in his life was built on lies, but the worst one of all was, if you love me, you will kill.
Cinnamon: While she was locked up, a friend told her a counselor was molesting her. Cinnamon gave her a tape recorder so they could have enough evidence before turning this person in. She finally participated in counseling and was released after being locked up for 6 years and 11 months. She got married in 1994 and got a job a in the travel industry. Her parole ended on July 3rd, 1995. She enjoys living a quiet life, she changed her name, and has a child. Patti Bailey was released from prison a year after Cinnamon when she turned 25. She changed her name, got married, had children, and regained custody of her daughter Heather.
David Brown enjoyed the prison pen pal program and continued to send letters to Patti and other ladies as well. He died in prison from natural causes in 2014 at age 61. He had basically established a cult within his family and he forced everyone to believe that they needed him. Their loyalty and trust was demanded. Everything in his life was built on lies and manipulation. The most haunting thing he said was If you love me, you will kill.
Resources: If You Really Love Me: Ann Rule