John Edward Brewer







Brewer in jail again: Charges involve strangulation

By Sean Gardiner     Florida Times-Union        April 16, 1998


A Jacksonville man charged but never prosecuted in the 1990 strangulation of a Mayport woman was back behind bars yesterday after being arrested in the 1987 rape and strangulation of a pregnant New Hampshire woman.

John Edward Brewer, 39, of the 500 block of Roberts Street was arrested Tuesday evening on a fugitive from justice warrant issued April 10 by a New Hampshire judge.

Patrick Donovan, an assistant attorney general in New Hampshire, said Brewer was arrested in the March 4, 1987, murder of Michele LaFond in Dublin, N.H., a rural town of about 2,000 people.

LaFond, 23, was raped then strangled with an electrical cord and dumped in her bathtub. She was three months pregnant.

It's the second time Brewer has found himself charged with a strangulation killing that involved rape.

Dina Kichler, 21, was raped then choked to death with a rope in her Mayport home in December 1990 while her Navy husband was at sea and her 2-year-old son was visiting grandparents. A year later, Brewer, a painter working at Mayport Naval Station, was charged in the killing.

Police said Brewer was a longtime friend of the Kichlersand often watched their toddler. They said he told her husband he would look after Kichler while the sailor was at sea and became infatuated with her.

After his arrest, Brewer spent two years in jail awaiting trial and a third year at his father's home, forced to wear an electronic monitoring anklet and under house arrest when he wasn't at work.

Then, he was freed in 1994, when the State Attorney's Office dropped the murder charge after lab tests on hair and semen samples gathered at the Kichlers' home were inconclusive. The defense also found a man in Ohio who one prosecutor conceded was a stronger suspect than Brewer. The name of that man and reasons why he was such a strong suspect were never made public.

Three years before the Mayport slaying, Brewer was living in New Hampshire, according to Donovan. After the slaying, New Hampshire police said they believed LaFond was killed by someone who knew her because there was no sign of forced entry or a struggle.

Donovan wouldn't say if Brewer knew LaFond, a married college student hoping to become a paralegal. The prosecutor also wouldn't say what led police to arrest Brewer 11 years after the killing. New Hampshire Attorney General Phillip McLaughlin has a news conference scheduled today to talk about the case.

New Hampshire police collected the rapist's DNA following the slaying but the sample was too small to test in 1987. However, recent scientific advances made it possible to grow DNA from a small sample so the genetic material could be tested.

Brewer listed his occupation as a loader for a local moving company. Officials contacted at that company said Brewer hadn't worked there in over a year. His Roberts Street neighbors couldn't be reached for comment last night.

Brewer waived extradition yesterday and will be returned to New Hampshire as soon as police from that state take custody of him, police said. New Hampshire State Police and prosecutors from the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office were in Jacksonville last night.

Ex-Convict Held in Dublin Murder  Paul Montgomery Union Leader Apr 16, 1998

SWANZEY -- The Florida man police say killed a pregnant Dublin woman 11 years ago should be back in New Hampshire today or Friday to answer a murder charge.

John E. Brewer, 39, waived his right to an extradition hearing in a Jacksonville, Fla., court yesterday, clearing the way for New Hampshire authorities to bring him back to the state.

Brewer was arraigned on a fugitive-from-justice charge in Florida involving the murder of Michele LaFond on March 4, 1987 at her Wind Mill Road home in Dublin. LaFond was 23 years old and four months pregnant when she was found raped, strangled and dumped in the upstairs bathtub of her home.

Patrick Donovan, an associate New Hampshire Attorney General, said Brewer would likely be arraigned in Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court when he returns to New Hampshire accompanied by two New Hampshire State Police detectives, Sgts. Clay Young and David Kelley, and Michael Ramsdell of the attorney general's staff.

The three men have been in Florida working on the Brewer arrest.

Donovan declined yesterday to say what led authorities to suspect Brewer in the crime, although it is believed that DNA evidence left behind in the rape helped police zero in on Brewer.

Brewer was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and spent much of his 20s in and out of jail in Florida and New Hampshire. As early as 1980, he was in the Granite State but wanted in Florida for check forgery charges. He was returned to Florida to deal with those allegations.

At that time he was living on Monadnock Street in Troy and listed his occupation as meat cutter, according to records.

From 1982 to 1986, Brewer was in and out of trouble in New Hampshire and in and out of jail. Many of his crimes were minor -- motor vehicle violations and the like -- but other charges include a 1982 burglary charge and a 1987 assault arrest.

In 1984, Brewer was sent to the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord to serve a 2 to 7 year sentence for burglary. Because he was sent away before truth-in-sentencing laws, he was allowed 150 days good time for every year of his sentence, according to records.

That fact allowed Brewer to be paroled in mid-1986 and he went to work at High Standard in Dublin, the same small factory where Michele's husband, Garry LaFond, worked.

Officials have said that, through FBI profiling, they determined that Michele LaFond knew her killer. Brewer belonged to a circle of acquaintances the LaFonds had at the time of Michele's death, according to officials.

On Christmas Eve of 1986, Brewer, who was by then living on Park Street in Swanzey, was arrested by Marlborough police on a drunken driving charge.  That was enough to violate his parole, but the case had to go through the justice system before Brewer would be sent back to prison. He remained free pending the outcome of the drunken driving case.

He appeared in Keene District Court on March 9, 1987 -- five days after the killing -- and the next day was returned to state prison to serve the remainder of his burglary sentence, according to prison officials.

In July of 1989 he had served the maximum time allowed by law and he was released. Once he was free, he apparently returned to Florida, where he has family.

It's possible that Brewer never surfaced as a suspect in the Dublin murder because authorities were not aware that he was out of prison at the time of the killing.

There is also confusion over records involving Brewer's criminal past. New Hampshire State Prison officials contend Brewer was being held in Concord from shortly after the murder until September 1989.

Other records indicate that Brewer was free in August 1987 -- five months after the death -- as well as July 1988. Both times he got into trouble with local authorities in Keene, according to records.

Officials could not explain the discrepancy yesterday.

For Maxine Lambert, Michele's mother, word of the arrest has been a salve.  Yesterday she returned to Monadnock View Cemetery in Swanzey to visit her daughter's grave, something she has done hundreds of times during the past 11 years.

"I'm very happy we got somebody," Lambert said. "It's been a long, long, road. Our prayers worked."

The grave also contains the remains of grandson Nicholas, who died a 4-month-old unborn child.

Lambert, her sister, Janice Leonard of Keene, and Michele's aunt, Barbara Buckley of Swanzey, comforted each other at the cemetery.

Maxine Lambert admitted to times when her faith wavered and she doubted anyone would ever be charged with the killing.  "The longer it went on, the more I thought we would lose evidence, all the accountability, all the accuracy of who said what," she said. "God bless DNA."

She commended the investigators who stayed with the case as leads became thin time and again.  "It shows they don't give up," she said. "It shows they truly care and are dedicated."

When Brewer returns to New Hampshire, Lambert said, "I want to look right at him. I want him to look at me."

After saying that, Lambert knelt by the grave and placed a bouquet of flowers near the headstone of her daughter and her grandson. Then she cried.

Family members are expected to attend a press conference this morning at the Attorney General's Office. Details of the arrest will be discussed at that time.

Murder suspect linked to 3 other killings  Associated Press Apr 18, 1998

A 39-year-old Jacksonville man charged with raping and murdering a New Hampshire woman was arraigned in Dublin, N.H., on Friday, 11 years after the victim's body was found in the bathtub of her home.

The suspect, John Brewer, has been linked to three other slayings, two in Portsmouth, N.H., and one in Florida.

The chief investigator in the March 1987 strangulation of Michelle Lafond said in an affidavit that the cases were linked by similarities. Both Lafond and the Florida woman, 21-year-old Dina Kichler, were strangled, and Brewer had worked with the victims' husbands and visited their homes before their deaths, authorities said.

In Florida, Brewer was arrested in Kichler's death, but the charges were dropped because of evidence problems. The prosecutor in that investigation said the case was still open.

Brewer was arrested in Jacksonville last week after Portsmouth detectives found evidence connecting him to Lafond's death. The 23-year-old Dublin woman was three months' pregnant when she died.

Brewer was arraigned Friday on a first-degree murder charge in Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court. He did not enter a plea, and was ordered held without bail in the Cheshire County Jail in Westmoreland, N.H.

During the brief courtroom appearance, Lafond's parents, Maxine and Herbert Lambert, looked at Brewer but said nothing. Maxine Lambert occasionally shook and wiped away tears. A day earlier she said she was ``on such a high . . . to put an answer to the puzzle I've been searching for for 11 years.''

The affidavit by New Hampshire State Police Sgt. David Kelley outlined how Portsmouth Detective Jim Tucker, who had attended a homicide conference in Florida, and his partner Michael Ronchi were struck by similarities among the two unsolved Portsmouth slayings, the Lafond killing and Kichler's death.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Ramsdell would not call the deaths ``serial killings'' Friday. He said DNA evidence in the Florida slaying matched that in the Dublin killing, but he played down any links to the Portsmouth deaths.

Laura Kempton, 23, was slain in her Portsmouth apartment on Sept. 28, 1981; Tammy Little, 20, was killed in her apartment on Oct. 19, 1982. Both Portsmouth Beauty School students suffered blows to the head. Kichler was killed in 1990.

Brewer was free on parole from a burglary conviction at the time of Lafond's slaying. He was returned to prison on a parole violation six days after the death. Lafond's husband, Gary, had been Brewer's supervisor at a Dublin factory.

Body Found, Answers Elusive. The Definitions of a 'Serial' Killer Union Leader  [Manchester NH] April 26, 1998

[Excerpt]
... Brewer was charged last week with the first-degree murder of Michele Lafond, 23, who was nearly four months pregnant when her body was found in her bathtub in Dublin March 4, 1987. Brewer had worked with Lafond's husband, Garry Lafond, at High Standard Inc. in Dublin. Brewer had been charged with a similar murder in Florida in 1990, but that charge was later dropped because of evidence problems.

A probable cause hearing for Brewer on the Lafond murder charge is scheduled for Tuesday for Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court.

Ramsdell said Friday that police have yet not made any connection between Brewer and the murders of two Portsmouth beauty school students, Laura Kempton, 23, in 1981 and Tammy Little, 20, the following year, but said that investigation is ongoing.

Ramsdell said he doubts there is any link between Brewer and the so-called Connecticut River Valley murders, in which nine women met violent deaths in the 1980s in western New Hampshire and eastern Vermont.

 "I'm familiar enough with those cases and one of the lead investigators, Clay Young, went to Jacksonsville (in the Brewer case). I wouldn't draw a link to those murders and Brewer," Ramsdell said.

Ramsdell said it is common for police to look for similar homicides after someone has been charged with murder such as in the Brewer case. His office has already received a few inquiries, he said.

Vermont State Police Capt. Ron DeVincenzi said there are several cases he wants to take a look at as well to see if Brewer could be involved.

"At this point we will look at him for some unsolved murders we have. There's a couple where he might fit the bill. We certainly will look at the timeline when he was free from jail in relation to the unsolved murders of females," he said...

MURDERER GETS SECOND LIFE TERM JOHN BREWER PLEADS GUILTY TO A DUBLIN, N.H., SLAYING A DAY AFTER SENTENCING IN FLORIDA Portland Press Herald [Portland ME] 01 July 1999

A day after he was sentenced to life in prison for a murder in Florida, John E. Brewer got a second life sentence for one in New Hampshire. 

Brewer, 40, of Jacksonville, Fla., pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering Michele Lafond, 23, at her Dublin home on March 4, 1987.

Prosecutors say he also raped Lafond, who was four months pregnant. Her husband, Gary, found her body.

Cheshire County Superior Court Judge John Arnold immediately imposed the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder: life in prison without parole.

Maxine Lambert, the victim's mother, was the only person to speak before Arnold imposed the sentence. "I have waited 12 years, two months and 26 days, John Brewer, to ask you why. You broke my heart that day," she said.

Lambert held up a photograph of her smiling daughter taken at a family New Year's Eve celebration eight weeks before her death.
"I want you to look at it and think about what you did," Lambert said. 

Brewer said nothing except one-word answers to questions from the judge.

Gary Lafond attended the sentencing but said nothing publicly.

In Jacksonville a day earlier, Brewer pleaded guilty to murdering Dina Kichler, 21, in 1990. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

The New Hampshire sentence is consecutive with the Florida one, and Brewer would stay in Florida to serve it, New Hampshire prosecutor Patrick Donovan said. Donovan, an assistant attorney general, said Brewer agreed to the three-way deal to avoid being charged with the death penalty in Florida.

Donovan said raping and murdering someone was not a capital offense in New Hampshire in 1987, but it is now. He said New Hampshire had nothing to gain from putting Brewer on trial.

Authorities first contacted Brewer at his Jacksonville home in January 1998; he was later arrested and pleaded innocent to the charges last summer.

According to court records, Portsmouth police detectives Jim Tucker and Michael Ronchi were attending a conference in Florida on unsolved murders when they noticed similarities between a murder in Florida in which Brewer was a suspect and two unsolved killings they were investigating in Portsmouth.

Laura Kempton, 23, and Tammy Little, 20, two beauty school students, both died from blows to the head. Kempton was murdered in her apartment on Sept. 28, 1981; Little in her apartment on Oct. 19, 1982.

Further investigation showed even more similarities between the Florida and Lafond killings. Both women had been strangled, both were home alone and Brewer had worked with both husbands.

Asked about then Portsmouth killings, Donovan said Brewer "is not a suspect in those murders at this time." But he said authorities plan to talk to Brewer about those cases.

Asked if Brewer is a suspect in any other unsolved cases in New Hampshire, Donovan said: "We'll be collecting as much information from John Brewer as he will give us." 

He said Florida authorities plan to question Brewer about another, Donovan, who called Brewer a serial killer, declined to speculate about his motive for killing Lafond.

"We can draw our own conclusions. But this man has done something like this to another woman," he said. 

Not knowing the motive is painful for Lambert.

"It will always haunt me. I'm never going to know," she said after the sentencing. 






 



No comments:

Post a Comment