It was the 19th of March, 1985, when police in Garden Grove, California, received a call from David Brown. He exclaimed that he had found his wife, Linda Brown, suffering from gunshot wounds in her bed. He claimed that he had left the family’s home earlier in the evening after becoming exasperated by his wife bickering with his 14-year-old daughter, Cinnamon Brown. Cinnamon was David’s daughter from an earlier relationship.
Linda had been shot twice in the abdomen at close range. She was rushed to Fountain Valley Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. A couple of hours after the shooting, police would find Cinnamon. She was shaking behind a doghouse in the back yard, surrounded by her own vomit. She had taken an overdose of prescription medication and a note would be found in her hand which read: “Dear God, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to hurt her.”1
Cinnamon would be ordered to stand trial for the murder of Linda and she pleaded not-guilty by reason of insanity.
Deputy District Attorney Mike Maguire described the murder as cold-blooded and said that Cinnamon had carried out the murder because she was depressed and angry because Linda had threatened to throw her out of the house.2
Cinnamon’s own father would testify against her during her murder trial, stating that she had been moody in the weeks leading up to the murder and that she had spoken about suicide. He also testified that he had shown Cinnamon how to shoot a gun just the evening before Linda was killed.
Cinnamon would be found guilty of first-degree murder. When the guilty verdict was read aloud, Cinnamon looked stunned and stated: “I don’t understand…”
The sentencing phase would follow and Cinnamon’s defence team would be arguing that she was legally insane at the time of the shooting. Her grandmother, Manuela Brown, would testify that Cinnamon had “imaginary friends” and had been depressed over her parents’ divorce and her father’s marriage to Linda. Her mother, Brenda Sands, told the court room that around a week before the shooting, her daughter had called her and complained that “she felt like she was going crazy because everybody kept fighting there in the house.”
Cinnamon would be sentenced to 27 years in state prison but due to her young age, she was housed with the California Youth Authority.
Her mother, Brenda, would state that she didn’t believe her daughter was guilty of the murder and said that there were many unanswered questions. She stated: “It happened so fast, I didn’t think everything was looked at back then. She’s a very sweet, a very nice, a very polit girl. She just wanted to do nice things for other people.”
Three years after the murder, there was an unexpected twist in the case when Cinnamon’s father, who was Linda’s husband, was arrested. David would be charged with murdering Linda allegedly to collect her $1.15 million in life insurance. When he was arrested, he was living in a lavish home with Linda’s younger sister, Patricia Ann Bailey, whom he had secretly married in 1986. He was additionally charged with persuading Cinnamon to take the fall for the murder by telling her that she was a juvenile and would therefore not be kept in custody.
After Cinnamon was convicted, investigator Jay Newell continued to work on the case. He had felt bothered by the fact that there were a number of inconsistencies that didn’t add up and he continued to stay in contact with Cinnamon from behind bars. As it turned out, Cinnamon had initially stuck to the story that she had committed the murder until earlier on that year. She had become fed up by the fact she was locked up while her father was living the life of luxury after cashing in and she started to cooperate.
Newell said: “She is a very brave little girl, in my opinion.” Cinnamon divulged to the investigator that she had been enlisted to help in the murder plot by her father who had told her that Linda was planning on killing him. He claimed that Linda and her brother were members of the Mafia and they wanted control of his business, Data Recovery.
Murder and conspiracy charges were also filed in juvenile court against 20-year-old Patricia. She had been at the family’s home on the night that her sister was shot. She had been 17-years-old at the time hence the juvenile charges.
Following the arrests, investigators who had worked the original investigation said that they had always speculated that Cinnamon had not acted alone in killing Linda but Cinnamon had confessed to the murder right away and was adamant that she had acted alone. It was evident that she was protecting her father. “It never jelled real with me. All of the relatives said that Cinnamon and Linda got along famously,” said an investigator.
As it would be revealed, within five months of Linda’s murder, David purchased a $350,000 home and had recently purchased a new home in Anaheim where he lived with Patricia. In the driveway were three brand new cars and even a motorhome. Before Linda’s murder, David had taken out four life-insurance policies on her life.
While Cinnamon was now speaking about the night of the murder, her comments did not clear her of any involvement. She revealed that her father had instructed her to write a suicide note which made the shooting and her overdose appear to be a murder-suicide. He also prepared a concoction of drugs and ordered Cinnamon to ingest it to corroborate her story.
A couple of months after Cinnamon changed her story, she testified at a preliminary hearing. She said to the court room that she loved her father so much that she killed for him. She said that David wanted Linda dead but didn’t want to do it himself. She said: “He said he didn’t have the stomach for it.” David’s defence lawyer, Joel Baruch, attacked Cinnamon’s credibility, suggesting that she implicated her father in a bid to gain freedom. He complained that Cinnamon was speaking too softly and was being led through testimony by the prosecution. Prosecutor Jeoffrey Robinson would accuse the defence of attempting to disrupt Cinnamon’s testimony.
According to Cinnamon, her father had told her: “If you loved me, you would do it.” She said that she, David and Patricia had spoken about pushing Linda out of a moving van during a trip to Riverside, hitting her over the head with some kind of heavy object and even throwing an electrical appliance into the bath while she was in it. One night, David then woke up both teenage girls and said: “Get up, girls. We have to do it tonight.” David took Cinnamon into the bedroom where he gave her pills to swallow to stage the appearance of a suicide attempt.
David then told Cinnamon that Patricia was going to explain how to carry out the murder. He left the home while Patricia loaded the gun and handed it to Cinnamon. She told her what to do next: enter Linda’s bedroom and shoot. However, the first shot hadn’t killed Linda. Cinnamon explained to the court room that she could hear Linda crying so she returned to the bedroom and shot once more.3
David would be ordered to stand trial and it was announced that Patricia would testify against him. By now, she had corroborated Cinnamon’s version of events and explained how she loaded the gun and handed it to Cinnamon, instructing her to shoot and kill her own sister. She testified that she and Cinnamon had carried out the murder under the orders of David. A year after the killing, Patricia had married David, her brother-in-law.4
Before the trial, however, it was uncovered that David had attempted to hire a hitman to kill Patricia as well as kill Deputy District Attorney Jeoffrey Robinson and Jay Newell, an investigator who had helped build the case again him. David had his brother deliver $22,700 to a former cellmate who was to arrange the murders. However, the cellmate had been cooperating with the investigators on the case. David was further charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit murder, three counts of solicitation to commit murder, solicitation to commit perjury, subornation of perjury and conspiracy to commit arson.5
Patricia Bailey would subsequently plead guilty in juvenile court to first-degree murder. She was sentenced to less than four years in a state youth facility. A couple of months later, David would stand trial and claim that Cinnamon and Patricia had killed Linda. During trial, it would be revealed that Patricia had been in love with David, her sister’s husband, and had thought of plots to kill her for more than a year. “I wanted her dead,” she said during trial. “I loved Linda. I loved David more.”
David Brown would ultimately be found guilty of the murder of Linda Brown. The defence argument was shattered to pieces when the jury were played an audio recording of David hiring a hitman to kill Patricia and others.6
David would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In February of 1992, Cinnamon was paroled from the California Youth Authority.
- The Orange County Register, 23 September, 1988 – “Man Charged with Murder, Making Daughter Confess”
- Daily Breeze, 14 August, 1985 – “Teenage Killer was Depressed”
- The Orange County Register, 20 December, 1988 – “He Didn’t Have the Stomach for it”
- The Orange County Register, 10 January, 1989 – “Patricia Describes Plot, Night of Her Sister’s Slaying”
- The Orange County Register, 17 February, 1989 – “Bailey Says Alleged Plot No Surprise”
- The Orange County Register, 16 June, 1990 – “Man Guilty of Having Daughter Kill His Wife”