An Iowa man allegedly killed his wife of more than four decades to cover up serious financial issues he had been hiding from her.
Roy Browning, Jr., 67, has been charged with first-degree murder in the April 5 stabbing death of his wife JoEllen Browning, 65. The couple had been married for 42 years.
JoEllen was killed just an hour before the couple planned to meet with a financial representative about discrepancies she had discovered in their bank accounts, according to the Iowa City Press Citizen.
Roy called Iowa City Police around 7 a.m. that day to report that he'd found his wife unresponsive in the bedroom, but investigators were unable to find any signs of forced entry in the home and later discovered Roy’s DNA under his wife’s finger nail clipping. Investigators also found blood in the shower and master bedroom of the couple’s home, according to court records obtained by the paper.
JoEllen’s death was ruled a homicide after it was determined that she had been stabbed in the front and back of her torso and on her left hand.
Roy was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife on Monday.
Investigators believe the motive in the grisly attack was to cover up Roy’s questionable financial activities that included taking out high-interest loans, pretending to have an account that didn’t exist and moving the couple’s savings into his own personal account without his wife’s knowledge, The Gazette reports.
In the days before JoEllen was killed, authorities said she had been asking her husband about discrepancies she'd found in their banking accounts.
The day before she died, she texted her husband to tell him she had scheduled an appointment with their financial advisor for the following day.
“JoEllen was preparing for tax season and had found some problems with Roy and JoEllen’s accounts,” stated the criminal complaint obtained by the Iowa City Press Citizen. “The representative was prepared to tell JoEllen at this meeting that one of their savings accounts was depleted and Roy had taken out loans of which JoEllen was not aware.”
After getting the text about the meeting, Roy texted back that he was aware of the meeting but immediately went to a paint store where he bought rubber palmed nitrile gloves and a package of six white towels, according to the affidavit. He was also given additional gloves by an employee that same day, investigators said.
Authorities were also able to find evidence of the alleged financial deception. In one record of the couple’s account on Dec. 31, 2018, it showed there was a balance of $97,830.17; however, the financial institution reported the actual balance during that time was just $88.76.
“Further review of the actual bank account showed the money was removed from his joint account and placed into an account owned solely by Roy Browning,” the affidavit said, according to The Gazette.
Roy also allegedly took out at least four different loans of $4,000 with interest rates over 300%.
Investigators also pointed to JoEllen’s life insurance policy and retirement account that was worth an excess of $2 million as a possible motive in the slaying.
“In reviewing finances, records show that JoEllen Browning was financially stable and Roy Browning did not have a revenue source,” the complaint said.
JoEllen had worked as the director of operating budgets at University of Iowa Health Care.
DCI Special Agent-in-Charge Rick Rahn declined to provide details about what Roy had been doing with the money, according to The Gazette.
“That will come out as the case unfolds,” he said.
The couple have two adult children, local station KCRG reports.
Roy is currently being held on a $5 million bond at the Johnson County Jail.
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