ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The two suspects charged in the murder of a Round Rock man who disappeared in late June are accused of shooting him to death and leaving him in a cornfield, according to a Travis County affidavit.
Police say Christopher Branham, 26, of Round Rock, disappeared on June 24. More than a month later, his body was found near the 14000 block of FM 1100, between Elgin and Manor.
On Wednesday, police say they arrested Anthony Davis and Kyle Cleveland in connection with Branham’s death. They are both charged with murder, according to affidavits released Thursday.
The affidavits say the two allegedly shot Branham and left him in a cornfield. His body was found by two farmers who were harvesting in the field.
The Branham family went 47-days without hearing from their son Christopher.
“There was always that little bit of hope that we had, that bit of sparkle,” said Conny Branham. “We were prepared for it, we had kinda been sleep walking for the last 6 weeks.”
What we know about his disappearance
Police say the 26-year-old was last seen at the Red Roof Inn in Round Rock. Jim Branham talked to Christopher the last night he stayed there around 7:30 p.m.
“He said he was fine, and everything was fine,” said Jim Branham.
Round Rock Police say the two arrested knew each other and Christopher, but the Branham family says they had never heard of the men.
“He was a chatty person, he could make friends with anyone,” said Conny. “He’d talk about football, anything,” she said.
Two bullets were recovered from his body, according to the affidavits, and the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide.
Witnesses at the Red Roof Inn where Christopher was last seen ultimately led law enforcement to Davis and Cleveland, the affidavits say. Investigators used Christopher’s last cell phone call to track them down.
Christopher’s mom first reported him missing to Hutto Police on June 27, according to the affidavit. She said she reportedly “spoke with an unidentified individual at the Red Roof Inn and heard that [he] had been murdered.”
Police also interviewed Christopher’s sister, who said a person at the Inn reported he saw Christopher “with a bloody face” and said he had recently been assaulted.
Witnesses say Davis and Cleveland claimed they were taking Christopher to the hospital for his injuries in the early morning hours of June 24, according to the affidavits.
However, when Davis and Cleveland returned without Christopher, a woman asked where he was. The affidavit says she reported the man, later identified as Davis, “reportedly laughed and told [her] that he ‘sent him home,’ and he was ‘in heaven.'”
Officers spoke with a man who said Davis, Cleveland and Christopher visited his room June 24. The witness reported Christopher was bleeding from the mouth, and when he tried to speak, the suspects would tell him to “shut up,” the affidavit says.
After the witnesses positively identified Cleveland, he was interviewed by police, the affidavits say. Cleveland said he drove Christopher and Davis June 24, and “at some point during the drive, [Christopher] jumped from the vehicle and was chased by [Davis], who had a gun that [Cleveland] admitted belonged to [him], and he routinely kept in his vehicle.”
According to the affidavits, the man says Cleveland reportedly told him there was a fight before Christopher was shot. Cleveland told the witness he allegedly heard two gunshots, and Davis returned to his car without Christopher, the witness reported.
Davis would only interview with police over the phone. After speaking with him, investigators found some parts of his story did not align with Cleveland’s. Investigators additionally used video surveillance and cell phone towers to track Cleveland’s car that morning.
Detectives are continuing to investigate “all aspects of the case including a possible assault and robbery where other subjects may have been involved,” according to Round Rock police.
‘We get some closure’
When Branham’s parents spoke to KXAN in late July, they said they used to talk at least three times a day. Despite the family’s loss, they’re thanking the community around them.
“We get some closure, I think because we have an awesome police force,” said Conny. “I’ve talked to mothers who never know where their loved ones went. We kept getting calls from all over. People don’t realize how much it means when they constantly reach out.”
Christopher’s family members have created a memorial fund in honor of him.