'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened': Who was Heather Church? Colorado girl was butchered by serial killer
Church was killed by Robert Charles Browne who claimed he killed 48 people, including a soldier in South Korea in 1970
In the latest documentary to come out on Discovery Channel's streaming service, discovery+, called 'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened', viewers are given a fresh look at the 1996 murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, whose killer is yet to be determined. JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey were main suspects in the eyes of Colorado police, but as retired Colorado Springs detective Lou Smit was brought on, they were cleared of the charges.
Smit conducted a thorough investigation of the crime scene — which was contaminated — and was able to present an alternate theory that an intruder most likely got access to the Ramsey household. He did not think that the Ramseys had murdered their daughter. Perhaps his conviction came from another case he had worked on, that had slightly similar circumstances, and the documentary mentions the case.
In 1993, 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church was found dead after she had gone missing from her family home while she was babysitting her younger brother, Sage. Much like in the JonBenet Ramsey case, Church's father was initially suspected of the crime, but the police later arrested and charged Robert Charles Browne for the murder in 1995, which he later pled guilty to after initially denying the accusations.
Who was Heather Dawn Church?
Born in July 1978, Church was 13 years old when she had disappeared from her family's house in September 1991. She was one of four kids and was babysitting her younger brother, Sage, on the night she went missing. Investigators did not believe that Church had run away — she had written on a Mormon Church questionnaire included in the case file that her short-term goals were to be nicer to her brothers and get good grades. According to reports, Church liked animals, dollhouses, swimming, biking, playing the violin, and playing the game of tag. Her favorite Scripture passage was 'Love one another'.
It was only two years after her disappearance that Church's body was found. Her skull was found down a hillside about 30 miles from her home. There were more than 40 suspects in Church's murder. One of them was her father, Michael Church, who had separated from her mother around six months before her death. Forensic evidence included fingerprints lifted off the frame of a window screen at Church's house. However, the fingerprints had no match to any in the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) database or the FBI database.
Who is Robert Charles Browne?
Born in 1952, Robert Charles Browne is a high school dropout who joined the army in 1969 and served till 1976, when he was dishonorably discharged for drug abuse. In 1995, he was arrested on charges of murdering Church. While he denied the charges at first, he later pled guilty to avoid the death penalty.
In 2006, Browne shocked many when he claimed that he killed 48 people. According to the Denver Post, Browne told the police that the killings were triggered by his “disgust” with the women’s “lack of morality.” He said in an affidavit, “Women try to present themselves to be one thing, and then always prove to be something else." He went on to describe them as “low… unfaithful… cheats… users… not of the highest moral character.” El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa told the publication that Browne viewed the killings as "opportunities."
Browne claimed that his killing spree covered nine states — Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. He also said that his first victim was a soldier in South Korea in 1970. Police have been able to connect him to seven other girls based on details Browne provided that they determined only the killer would know: Katherine Hayes (15 years old who went missing in July 1980 in Louisiana), Wanda Faye Hudson (21 years old who was found dead in May 1983 in Los Angeles), Faye Self (26 years old, reported missing in March 1983), Melody Bush (22 years old, found dead in March 1984), Nidia Mendoza (17 years old, reported missing in February 1984), Rocio Sperry (15 years old, reported missing in November 1987), and Lisa Lowe (21 years old, reported missing in November 1991). While the police had not been able to connect him to other murders, they don't believe that he is exaggerating, with Maketa saying, "We’ll hold the No. 48 until he tells us otherwise."
'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened' will premiere on Discovery+ on Monday, January 4, 2021, at 12 am PST.