The murder of Tommy Brown in early September of 2013 is a tangled tale of deceit and betrayed trust that involved a fake pregnancy, two love triangles, and a toilet lid weapon.
Tommy’s body found
Right after 3 p.m. on September 7, 2013, Andrea Brown found her 51-year-old brother Tommy’s dead body at his home in Fort Worth Texas.
She had gotten inside his house by using the spare key he kept hidden in his mailbox. Andrea had gone looking for her brother because his family had been having trouble contacting him for the past few days.
Inside his home, Andrea found her brother’s lifeless body laying in the threshold of his bathroom door with a bag on his head.
Tommy’s body was badly beaten and there were shards of porcelain on the floor.
He had also been robbed of his wallet, television, and truck.
Tommy’s dream of starting a family
In 2004, at age 43, Tommy wanted to start a family and had entered a serious relationship with a woman named Connie Moreno.
Almost a decade later, in 2013, they had been unsuccessful in having children so they were considering using a surrogate to help fulfill Tommy’s dream of becoming a father.
A mysterious murder weapon
Detectives didn’t know exactly what the murder weapon was that killed Tommy. They considered that it could be a blunt force object like a baseball bat, but were unable to find the object.
They found evidence that the assailant had also been injured during the attack. The killer had left behind a blood droplet when they washed their hands.
Police considered this to be a personal crime because they didn’t see signs of a break-in. Tommy had had to have let his killer inside his home.
An attempt to frame someone else
Detectives found out that Tommy’s truck had been abandoned at a convenience store while still running. It had been impounded at the Fort Worth police department before it was known that it was evidence in a murder.
Thankfully they were able to connect the car to murder victim Tommy Brown before it was destroyed or sold.
It appeared to the police that the perpetrator had hoped that someone else would steal the car that was left running in an attempt to frame a random opportunist, but no one took the bait.
Evidence found in the car
The killer had not been sly enough to take all theevidence from the truck before they abandoned it. In the the back of the truck was a garbage bag that had pieces of porcelain just like the pieces that had been found on the floor.
They also found a bus ticket for someone with the name “Eunice Rodriguez.”
Detectives eventually realized that these porcelain pieces were from a toilet lid. Back at the crime scene, the toilet tank was missing the lid.
A love triangle
Tommy’s sister Andrea told police about his longtime girlfriend Connie Moreno, but revealed that he was seeing a second woman named Cristina. Her full name, though, was Eunice Cristina Rodriguez, which explained the bus ticket.
Tommy met Cristina while she was in prison. He became her penpal in 2003 while she was serving a 10-year sentence for robbery.
Prison pen pals
Tommy would write to Cristina about his problems with Connie and about he longed to have a family. Cristina also corresponded with Connie during this time.
In 2011 Cristina got an early release and often visited Tommy when he and Connie were experiencing off times during their on-again, off-again relationship.
A surrogacy offer
By 2013, Tommy and Connie decided to commit to each other. At this time, Cristina offered to be a surrogate for them because she was grateful for everything Tommy had done for her while she was in prison.
They were reportedly only intimate one time in order to start this process. She immediately told them that she was pregnant, and Tommy was excited.
However, Tommy and Connie still couldn’t make their relationship work and Connie moved out of their home.
Texts from the dead
During her interview with police, Tommy’s sister Andrew received a text message from Tommy’s phone.
She knew that Tommy was no longer alive, but whoever was pretending to be Tommy told Andrea that Tommy was going to El Paso to see his pregnant girlfriend.
Police looked to Connie as a suspect
Since Tommy and Connie had such a tumultuous relationship and has split yet again shortly before his murder, police were looking into her as a possible suspect.
Tommy had been last seen on the 5th of September by a neighbor who witnessed a man and woman go into Tommy’s house. The neighbor didn’t recognize either of them, but he knew that the woman was not Connie.
This made detectives rule out Connie and focus on Cristina Rodriquez. They dug into her criminal record found that she had served time for a disturbingly cruel robbery.
Cristina Rodriguez’s cold-blooded past
In 2002, Cristina had answered an ad in the newspaper for nurse for a 82-year-old man. She tied him up with a phone cord, assaulted him, and stole his belongings.
After she was released from prison for this heinous crime, she had two police reports from Tommy Brown. He complained that she had taken his wallet and his television.
A debit card trail
Whoever killed Tommy was making a lot of sloppy moves. Not only was Tommy’s cell phone texting after his death, but his debit card was making purchases.
His financial records showed that his debit card had been used at a 7-11 in the area.
When investigators reviewed security camera footage the 7-11 where Tommy’s debit card was used, they saw a man with a bandaged hand. The bandaged hand made sense because it looked like the killer had hurt themselves.
The same man and a woman who looked like Cristina were also seen in security footage at a dollar store where the card was also used.
More texts from a dead man
Tommy’s supervisor from work also got a text message from Tommy claiming that he was going to be a father. He asked his supervisor for money right away via Western Union.
The person impersonating Tommy asked that the money not be sent to his name, but instead to his cousin: Braylon Ellis.
This is the first time investigators have heard this name, and they were able to track Braylon down at his mother’s house in Georgia, where he was staying with Cristina Rodriguez.
After a search of the room that Braylon and Cristina shared in his mom’s house, they call Tommy’s cell phone and it rings.
They also found Tommy’s wallet in their car.
At the police station, Cristina asked not to speak without an attorney. Braylon, however, did speak with the police.
Braylon told the detectives he had no idea who Tommy was. He explained his hand injury by claiming that a pit bull attacked him.
How Braylon and Cristina met
Cristina and Braylon had met a few months before on a bus. She stopped at Dallas, but he went to California. After their trip they kept in touch and eventually they started living together.
Braylon told the police that he loved Cristina so much that he wanted to marry her.
During the course of the police interrogation Braylon changes his story and admits that he had heard of Tommy, and claims that Tommy used to beat Cristina.
On September 10, 2013, just three days after Tommy’s body was found, Cristina and Braylon were charged with Tommy’s murder.
Braylon testified against Cristina
Almost three years later, in March, 2016 Braylon Ellis was taken to trial. His DNA was found at the crime scene because he had bled there. He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
Cristina’s trial didn’t occur until January 2017. Braylon Ellis was there as a witness. He did not receive a reduction in his sentence for testifying against her, he just wanted to share her deception.
Cristina had lied to both men about her pregnancy
Braylon shared with he jury that she had lied about being pregnant with his child while at the same time she told Tommy she was pregnant with his baby.
She wasn’t pregnant at all, though. She was printing off fake ultrasounds from the Internet.
Braylon said that Cristina told Braylon that Tommy had been physically abusive towards her. This upset him and he wanted to go to Tommy’s house to beat him up.
How the murder happened
Braylon says that they snuck into Tommy’s house with his spare key in the mailbox, the same one his sister used to find his body.
While they waited for Tommy to come home from errands, Braylon hid in the bathroom. That’s where he got the idea to use the lid of the toilet.
When Tommy came home, Braylon attacked Tommy with the porcelain. Then, he says Cristina gave him pot to beat him with. Then, Braylon put a bag over Tommy’s head.
Braylon says Cristina asked him to load Tommy’s TV while she looked for his wallet.
One of Cristina’s cellmates from the county jail also testified against her. She said that Tommy had been still alive after Braylon beat him and Cristina was disgusted with that so she finished him off.
Cristina Rodriquez was found guilty and sentenced to life with eligibility for parole, the same sentence as Braylon Ellis.
Does Cristina deserve more time?
Tommy’s sister Andrea thinks she doesn’t deserve the possibility of parole because of her cold-blooded and self-serving actions.
She had established a pattern of earning trust from people only to attack and rob them. Twice she had taken advantage of someone’s trust. In the case of Tommy Brown, it cost him his life.