Ex-SDPD lab tech suspected of girl’s murder commits suicide

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SAN DIEGO — A one-time San Diego police criminalist who died in an apparent suicide in the East County highlands this week was due to be arrested on suspicion of taking part in the gruesome murder of a teenage girl 30 years ago, authorities reported Thursday.

Kevin Charles Brown, 62, was found dead at Cuyamaca State Park on Tuesday afternoon. Brown evidently had killed himself, SDPD Lt. Paul Rorrison said, declining to disclose what led to that conclusion.

In November 2012, cold-case homicide detectives uncovered DNA evidence that allegedly linked Brown and a second man to the slaying of 14-year-old Claire Hough, who was found dead at Torrey Pines State Beach on Aug. 24, 1984.

The girl, who was visiting and staying with her grandparents at the time, had been beaten, strangled and stabbed, and one of her breasts had been cut off, according to San Diego County Crime Stoppers.

The other suspect, Ronald Clyde Tatro, died at age 67 in a boating accident in Tennessee the year before investigators got the break in the case.

Brown was civilian lab worker for the San Diego Police Department from 1982 until his retirement in 2002.

“The investigation confirmed Kevin Brown had no association with any of the evidence processed in this case; nor was he assigned to any part of the murder investigation,” Rorrison said.

Since the DNA evidence surfaced in the case two years ago, homicide detectives had “conducted extensive investigative follow-ups to bring forward a prosecutable case,” the lieutenant said.

At the time of Brown’s death, “preparations were being made” for his arrest, Rorrison said.

The murder occurred six years after a highly similar one at the same northern San Diego beach. In August 1978, 15-year-old Barbara Nantais was found slain with one of her breasts severed. Her boyfriend was nearby, suffering from severe head wounds that had left him semiconscious and with no memory of the attacks.

It was unclear if Brown and Tatro were considered suspects in the earlier murder as well.


  • August

    My God, extremely evil filthy rich government employees, who got to retire and live like KINGS, brutally raped & murdered this beautiful little girl…..

    • DavidM

      Well, to be accused of brutally raping and murdering the girl. So sad when someone sees what the government claims and assumes, without more, that he must be guilty.
      Her murder, and the other mentioned in the story, are tragic. His suicide is tragic. But who’s to say that he feared the time, reputation loss, and immense cost associated with being an innocent man accused of a crime he did not commit?
      Were the lab procedures at the time sufficient to avoid DNA contamination? No one ever heard of DNA evidence back then.

  • Fred

    August….get off the pipe there boy! People who work for the government aren’t rich unless they were high ranking officials. Most are simple blue collar workers who made a decent salary and worked for a long time to receive a decent retirement but certainly most are not rich by any means. This piece of crap only did 20 years therefore only received about 45% of his salary in retirement depending on his age at retirement. Now before you all go jumping on me about that amount….take and look at a retiree from Union Bank and see how much they would get (about the same) or a person from Costco (about the same if they get the rule of 84 still, age plus time of service equals 84) . But think of it this way, he’s dead from a suicide. Justice served at no cost to the court system. Too bad he had to kill the poor young lady though. Thoughts to the surviving family.

    • Amanda Smith

      wow. Shame on all of you! You are all making assumptions. You don’t have all the facts, only what the media chooses to portray. I personally knew this man. His wife works at a school and he would volunteer and come speak to the kids about his job in forensics every year. He was kind-hearted. He certainly did not kill that 14 yr old girl. Someone that murders people do not have a kind heart and work for the County doing forensics! Whoever killed that girl, would more than likely have been a repeat offender– other things on his record. Kevin did not have a record. He was a nice guy, and was framed. It disgusts me how crude you all are! An innocent man killed himself because he was framed to kill a girl 20 years prior! That is absurd. Peace be with his family. I am so saddened to hear that Kevin took his own life over something he simply did NOT do.

      • wow

        This guy was a sociopath. Serial killers are some of the nicest people in the communities with good jobs. Just because this man was nice and volunteered his time to help does not mean he didn’t kill this girl and any other women during his life. He just didn’t kill you. You are a naive woman.

  • Andrew Dean Buckley

    I drove by Cuyamaca State Park on Tuesday afternoon and saw the area taped off with yellow ribbon. I’m so happy justice was met. I’m wondering if another case in 1978 six year earlier in the same area where a young lady was murdered Torrey Pines State Beach may have connections.

    • wow

      I bet it is connected and that’s why he killed himself. There maybe other unsolved murders that he may have been involved in.

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