A man serving life for killing his wife and stepdaughter has been charged with a cold case murder from 30 years ago, and may be implicated in five other killings, police said Thursday.
Regis Brown, 59, allegedly affiliated with the Outlaws biker gang, was charged Thursday with killing Bryce Tompkins in 1988 and dumping his body in a creek, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Brown confessed to the crime, police said, and is charged with homicide, two counts of aggravated assault and intimidation of witnesses.
Brown is serving life without parole plus 20 to 40 years in prison for the March 2018 killings of his wife, Michele Brown, and stepdaughter Tammy Greenawalt, according to the Erie Times News. He was sentenced in September.
“I’m looking at the face of evil,” Erie County Judge John J. Trucilla said when he sent Brown away to die in prison. “This is as evil as I’ve seen.”
Pennsylvania State Trooper Joe Vascetti long suspected Brown killed Tompkins, but was unable to prove it until he was arrested for the March killings. That’s when he questioned Brown again about Tompkins’ murder, and this time Brown broke, Vascetti said.
"We had him in a room,” Vascetti said at a Thursday news conference. “He was defeated, and he knew that he was probably going to serve life, a double life sentence, in the murders.
“He accepted his role in that. He knew that I knew that he was involved in the Tompkins homicide, and I let him know that, and we just got that out of the air quick. It wasn't a situation where I was asking him. I was telling him. He knew that, and he confessed,” Vascetti said.
Brown allegedly confessed that he killed Tompkins because he had witnessed a burglary Brown committed, telling Vascetti he shot the passerby with a .38 caliber revolver he stole during a burglary a month earlier, before dumping the man’s body in a creek, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Tompkins had been shot twice in the back with a .38, an autopsy report determined.
In addition to confessing to the Tompkins murder, Brown allegedly admitted killing five other people in western Pennsylvania between 1986 and 2016, and may have information about as many as 10 more murders dating to the late 1970s, police said.
"At different areas, different times, random, specific killings. Serial killings," Vascetti said, summarizing the murders Brown allegedly confessed to.
“There's no underlying theme for a lot of these like you do get for certain serial killers. If you offended him or he had a specific reason, like this case with Tompkins where he witnessed the burglary, he’d kill you,” Vascetti said.
At least one of the killings is connected to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a group Brown was involved in, Joshua Lamancusa, the Lawrence County District Attorney, said at the news conference.
One of Tompkins’ daughters, Stacey Harding, 47, who was a senior in high school when her father was killed, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the charges against Brown were a relief to her.
“After 30 years, I’m completely relieved that we can have closure,” she said.
[Photo: Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections]
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