Jodi Arias’ former cellmate has accused the murderer of manipulating her to the point where she even let Arias tattoo her name on her body.
Tracy Brown (now Tracy Brown Bering) met Arias a month after she was booked into Estrella Jail, a women's prison facility in Phoenix, Arizona. Brown was arrested on a kidnapping charge in the summer of 2008, and a month later, Arias became her cellmate after she was extradited to the jail from California. It took weeks for Arias to reveal what she was in for, according to Lifetime’s “Jodi Arias: Cellmate Secrets.”
Arias had been jailed on a first-degree murder charge for the brutal killing of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in 2008. She was later found guilty of the murder in 2013. But to Brown, Arias was just the perfect cellmate. She was clean and sweet and they quickly became close friends along with fellow inmate Donovan Bering, whom Brown began dating behind bars and has since married.
Arias was also a soothing voice to Brown.
“She would sing to me every night while we were incarcerated together,” Brown told the producers of “Jodi Arias: Cellmate Secrets.”
Brown called the convicted killer her “songbird,” a woman with “a voice of an angel.” She said her singing was sometimes so beautiful it would make Brown break down “in tears."
That’s precisely why, in part, Brown, had a tattoo of a bird alongside a musical note on her left calf. Arias’ name is inked inside the bird — but it's not the only reason, Brown says.
She claimed Arias confided in her that she was considering ending her life and revealed her suicide plan to her, which Brown now seemingly believes was a farce.
“I agreed to let Jodi put her name on my leg because I was convinced she was going to kill herself,” Brown said. “I wanted something to remember this friend that I had gotten so close to in such a short time by.”
Brown and Bering were unaware of the media circus already stemming Arias' well-publicized case when they were jailed with her for four months. While Brown’s perception of Arias ultimately warped over time, she was merely was in awe of Arias when they were cellmates. Arias would often draw in the cell and Brown encouraged her to be her tattoo artist.
“I made up the ink and made up the tattoo paraphernalia and let her start tattooing me,” Brown said.
She let Arias give her six tattoos during the few months they shared together. In addition to the bird tattoo, Arias gave her a tattoo of a pinnacle, a moon, a Celtic symbol, and Donovan's name.
Brown detailed how she and Arias would wrap a rubber band around a pencil. Then, they'd take a staple taken from their court papers and pull it apart. It would be sharpened until it was pointy enough to penetrate the skin. For the ink, Brown said they put lead inside a piece of paper so they could grind it as much as possible. When it became a fine powder, it would be poured into a toothpaste cap where some mascara would be added in for color. They’d add in a drop of shampoo. Arias would put baby powder on Brown and rub it into her skin so that she could draw an outline of each tattoo with a pencil. Brown noted that Arias used the top of a shampoo bottle for tracing the symmetrical lines of her Celtic tattoo.
Bering, who was jailed on suspicion for being an accessory to arson, noted in the show that Arias also tattooed her. After Bering left jail in 2008, she became Arias’ supporter and spokesperson. But by 2017, the couple's perception of Arias changed from victim to manipulator and cold-blooded killer, and they cut her out of their lives.
Brown alleged that Arias convinced her that she was a victim as she was preparing for her murder trial. Brown and Bering also claimed that they later observed Arias falsely accuse Alexander and even her own father of horrible abuse to try to avoid the death penalty
Covering up Arias’ name on Brown’s calf — a cheery unicorn has now replaced the killer’s work — is just one step in the couple’s attempt to put their friendship with Arias in the past.
Arias, who was sentenced to life behind bars in 2015, attempted to appeal her conviction because of a prosecutor's alleged misconduct. A three-member Arizona Court of Appeals rejected the appeal in March after they determined in a ruling that her conviction was based on "overwhelming evidence."
Get all your true crime news from Oxygen. Coverage of the latest true crime stories and famous cases explained, as well as the best TV shows, movies and podcasts in the genre. And don't miss our own podcast, Martinis & Murder!