Missouri substitute teacher accused of raping student, 14, found dead in prison two weeks after arrest

Missouri substitute teacher accused of raping student, 14, found dead in prison two weeks after arrest
Brandon Holbrook, who was in prison for raping a 14-year-old student, was found dead in his cell (St Louis County Police Department)

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ST LOUIS, MISSOURI: A former substitute teacher in Missouri, who was accused of raping a 14-year-old student, died in the St Louis County Justice Center, just two weeks after his arrest. Brandon Holbrook, 30, was found dead in his jail cell Monday, September 26. He was alone in the cell under quarantine when he was found unresponsive. Prosecutors charged Holbrook with three counts of statutory rape and six counts of statutory sodomy. 

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Despite the legal complicalications he faced, he was described as 'optimistic' and even 'upbeat' by his lawyers. Holbrook was a substitute teacher at Bernard Middle School when he initially met the rape survivor, with whom he reportedly had an inappropriate relationship, in May. When the St Louis County Police Department announced the arrest, authorities said detectives had reason to believe “there may be additional victims.” St Louis County police Sgt Tracy Panus said that two more potential victims had contacted the police after prosecutors charged Holbrook.

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“Holbrook was a substitute teacher at Bernard Middle School when he initially encountered the victim. Through the investigation, it was learned that Holbrook engaged in sexual contact with the victim and made veiled threats if the victim disclosed the information,” police said, adding, “Holbrook was arrested and is currently being held on $50,000 [sic] cash only bond.” According to court documents, investigators believe Holbrook was grooming the survivor through social media platforms by exchanging messages and photos. Holbrook went to the survivor's home and engaged in sexual acts on at least three separate occasions, as per court documents. The survivor was a student  at 1054 Forder Road, in the Mehlville area, police said. 

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St Louis Post Dispatch reported that Holbrook was sitting upright in bed with his earphones in when jailers realized something was wrong. A jailer went into his cell when Holbrook reportedly did not respond to a command to stand up and discovered him unconscious. He was reportedly pronounced dead at a hospital an hour later. Before that, the corrections officer who found Holbrook reportedly attempted CPR and even administered Narcan in the event that the inmate’s condition was opioid-related. "There was nothing in his cell indicating he injured himself at all. In this case,” Moore, a spokesperson for the county, said, adding, “We just don’t know what happened.”

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Holbrook’s lawyer Scott Rosenblum is demanding an investigation. “I know for a fact he was not suicidal,” the lawyer reportedly said. Mysteriously, the jail offcials also did not witness Holbrook use drugs or any signs of suicide attempt.  Holbrook is the third inmate to die at the St Louis County Justice Center in 2022. 

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