Ex-biz partner of slain Pennsylvania mother Jennifer Brown charged with her murder
The ex-business partner of slain Pennsylvania mother Jennifer Brown was charged in her murder Thursday after her body was found in a shallow grave last month, prosecutors said.
The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office charged Blair Watts with first-degree and third-degree murder more than a month after the 33-year-old suspected killer reported Brown missing.
Brown, 43, previously agreed to invest money into a restaurant re-opening spearheaded by Watts before her death, prosecutors said.
She went missing on Jan. 4 after failing to pick her 8-year-old son up from the bus. Her body was found partially buried about 30 miles north of Philadelphia on Jan. 18.
Prosecutors alleged Watts killed Brown on Jan. 3, the same day two cash transfers of $9,000 and $8,000 were made into accounts he controlled. The $17,000 was not part of the written agreement between Brown and Watts for the new restaurant, called Birdies Kitchen, that was scheduled to open in January, the district attorney’s office said.
Watts went to the property owners unannounced on Jan. 4 “now saying he had the money to put down on a lease,” according to prosecutors.
“For 37 days since this devoted mother was reported missing, detectives have been accumulating evidence, piece by piece, bringing into focus what happened to Jennifer and who murdered her,” said DA Kevin Steele.
“That picture shows Blair Watts murdered Jennifer Brown on Jan. 3rd, then moved her body and ultimately buried her in a shallow grave. He is now behind bars at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.”
Watts picked up Brown’s son from the bus stop on Jan. 3 and told the boy his mother was grocery shopping and that he’d be sleeping over Watts’ home that night, prosecutors alleged.
Before going to Watts’ home, they stopped at Brown’s residence, and the alleged killer went inside while the boy stayed in the car.
When he came back to the car, the boy spotted his mother’s cell phone — the only personal item of Brown’s that investigators could not locate when they began their search for her — in Watts’ hands, prosecutors said.
Brown also failed to provide clothes or medication for her son for the sleepover, which investigators found suspicious, the district attorney’s office said.
Cell data indicates Watts’ and Brown’s cellphones traveled together at times on Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, before Brown’s cell phone eventually became inactive that morning, prosecutors said.
A cadaver dog sniffed out human remains in two cars Watts drove and broken pieces of a hair clip found in Brown’s home were later connected to the grave site, the district attorney’s office said. The DA’s office also said Watts had a spare key to Brown’s home.
An autopsy determined Brown’s cause of death was homicide by unspecified means, though she suffered from three broken ribs, officials said.
Before Watts came up with the cash to open the restaurant, prosecutors outlined how he and the property owners were in touch about the business in August, but then on Dec. 28, they informed him they were not moving forward with the lease. Watts then threatened to sue.