Jessica Starr Indiana murder case? Look at Tavaras Browning.

Jessica Starr Indiana

Dateline NBC just ran a ‘Cold Case Spotlight’ on their website about the Jessica Starr case from Elkhart County, Indiana back in 2011. There’s a lot more information in this article, and even more here as well as the video embedded below. The basic facts of the case are:

  • Starr had been attacked in a home invasion in 2001, and used that experience to help others dealing with similar issues.
  • She got home around 11:25pm on August 8, 2011 — by “home” in this case we’re referring to a friend’s house where she was staying after recently breaking up with a boyfriend — and was attacked as she attempted to get her groceries out of her car.
  • The attack apparently occurred with a tree branch — the force of the first or second hit broke her arm. (Jesus Christ.) Eventually, she was stabbed.
  • One of her friends and (apparently) her friend’s child was inside the home and called 911 (audio on the embedded video below). If you troll Facebook for updates around this case, you’ll see a lot of people posting “They should have gone outside and shot the attacker!” I kind of think that’s dumb and misses the point.

Here’s the video I referenced twice above:

The first thing you might think here is “Oh, there’s some connection between the previous home invasion and this attack!” That was actually the first thing I thought too, but only for a second: the home invasion was 2001, and the murder was 2011. A decade is a long time for someone to come back and get at the same person again.

The key detail in this case, noted a few times around the Internet media reports, is that the lightbulb on the front porch was unscrewed, essentially creating more darkness around the front of the home. Remember, this wasn’t Jessica’s home — it was her friend’s. That means you need someone who knows a few things:

  • Where Jessica is staying
  • Where that exact address is
  • What time she might get home
  • Who else might be in the house
  • What they are likely to do if they hear screaming, etc.

That’s a lot for a random attacker to know, so I ruled out “random attacker” fairly fast.

Now, I don’t live in Indiana and I have no idea what happened here. But I did think it was interesting that several media reports said she moved in with her friend after a breakup. I Googled around her ex-boyfriend and found two Facebook posts — here and here — where people seem to think someone named Tavaras Browning, an ex of Jessica’s, is the culprit. According to that first thread, he already might be in prison for 50 years for another crime.

People say stuff on Facebook all the time without meaning, so take this with a grain of salt, obviously. But I would rule out the idea of a “random attacker,” and I’d also rule out a connection between 2001 and 2011, so … it seems likely that an ex-BF or classmate is the leading candidate here.

Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. I’m curious how you came across this case and why you decided to write about it, if you didn’t know Jessica, and don’t live in Indiana.

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