AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin police have connected James Loren Brown, 25, to five different assaults on women in Austin, but a former co-worker said he was a 'nice guy' who was never disrespectful to women at work.
"To me, he wasn't the kind of person who would do that," said former co-worker, Samantha Fitzpatrick. "he was a nice guy."
But Austin police paint a different picture. They said Thursday Brown was connected by DNA to five assaults on women in South and East Austin beginning last Summer. He is also the prime suspect in the murder of Esme Barrera, 29, on New Year's Day.
"There's a good chance this is our bad guy," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. "The bottom line is, although we think he's the prime suspect, we're not going to say we've solved the (Barrera) case. But we're hopeful through science and hopefully some additional information out there that viewers might have, we'll be able to bring some final closure."
Fitzpatrick said she was stunned to learn Brown was the suspect in the sketches she had seen of the suspect in the New Year's attacks.
"To me, he wasn't the kind of person who would do that- he would always come in to work- he would work extra- he would work for other people- he was always there- he was a nice person- he was never disrespectful to anybody- and even when he was talking to girls, he wasn't disrespectful to them," said Fitzpatrick.
But Fitzpatrick recalled a bizarre incident involving Brown back in December.
"One of the girls said he came in with a scratch and said that his girlfriend scratched him- but then, he didn't have a girlfriend," said Fitzpatrick.
She said the scratch was on Brown's face.
Fitzpatrick said Brown did not show up for work on New Year's Day, which was unlike him. He did not show up for work again. Police said they believe Brown took his life on January 5, one week before his roommate discovered his body.
"If you put yourself in the shoes of somebody that we know definitely without a doubt was the bad guy, was a predator really targeting women around Austin, all of a sudden you see fliers that have an uncanny resemblance to you. The pressure that community placed on that suspect was huge," said Acevedo.
Brown was a Navy veteran and once attended Austin Community College. He was not currently a student.
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