October 7, 1981
Barbara Jo “Bobbi” Brown (11) is abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered
WARNING: This article contains graphic details. Discretion is advised.
The Brown family matriarch was left a single mother after a car accident in 1971 claimed the lives of her husband and one of her daughters, leaving her to raise the remaining 10 children on her own. As such, the elder siblings often looked after the younger children.
On October 7, Bobbi’s was left in the care of her 16-year-old sister. At approximately 7 p.m., Bobbi asked to leave the home for a short while, a request the sister agreed to, though the sister became increasingly concerned when Bobbi didn’t return home. The sister visited areas she believed Bobbi may have stopped and eventually learned from a witness that Bobbi had gotten into a car with “Bruce and John.”
John Brogdon (19) and Victor Bruce Perritt (17) were known in the area and had a bad reputation. Bobbi’s sister went to Perritt’s house and knocked but received no answer. “They had already killed her and were hiding in there,” the sister later said in an interview.
Bobbi’s sister contacted the sheriff’s to file a missing persons report but was told the procedure at the time would not allow for a missing child report to be accepted until after midnight of the day of the disappearance. The sister next called a detective, who was friend of the family, to investigate.
Bobbi’s body was found around 9 p.m. by two men driving behind a levee. Nearby was an abandoned car. The detective returned to Bobbi’s sister and asked if she recognized the vehicle. She did; it belonged to Bruce Perritt. Perritt and Brogdon were visited by police at Perritt’s home and were taken into custody due to blood on their clothing.
Brogdon voluntarily confessed to Bobbi’s murder while in custody. He stated both he and Perritt were drunk at the time of the crime and admitted to picking Bobbi up from a convenience store, taking her to the levee, and attacking her. According to Brogdon, both teens repeatedly raped Bobbi, broke glass bottles on cement which they then used to stab her, and struck her with their fists. Brogdon stated Perritt threw a brick at Bobbi’s head, then Brogdon used the brick to beat Bobbi until he “thought she was dead.” Brogdon stated the reason Bobbi was killed was because she knew her rapists and the teens feared she would “tell on them.”
The injuries to Bobbi’s body were so severe her skull, vertebrae, and internal organs were exposed. Examination of Bobbi’s body revealed she had been raped with pointed objects which penetrated into her abdominal cavity; two bloody sticks were left behind at the scene which were considered to have been the weapons used.
Brogdon attempted to plead guilty, though the judge denied the plea when prosecutors refused to waive the death penalty; Louisiana state law prohibited a guilty plea from being entered in a case carrying a potential death sentence.
The defense’s only witness was a psychologist who testified Brogdon was not mentally capable to differentiate between right and wrong at the time of the crime. He was diagnosed with a personality disorder and a low IQ estimated to be between 64 and 80, giving him the approximate mental age of between 10 and 13 years old. It was also noted Brogdon had been addicted to alcohol since the age of 14 and had been abused by his father.
The prosecution called forth two experts who testified Brogdon was aware of the morality of his actions, which the jury seemed to agree with. He was convicted and sentenced to death.
Perritt testified during his trial that he was not involved in the attack and had attempted to stop Brogdon from raping and killing Bobbi. He, too, was convicted but sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. (The jurors had decided against capital punishment because Perritt was 17 at the time of the murder.)
Brogdon was executed in the electric chair on July 30, 1987, at the age of 25. His final statement was “God bless y’all.”
Perritt’s sentence was considered for review in 2012 after the Supreme Court ruled mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders to be unconstitutional. Bobbi’s sister was against this prospect and told reporters, “Somebody who set out to do something that evil and premeditated doesn’t deserve to get out. Believe me, I will do whatever. I will call whoever, contact whoever to make sure he never gets out. I will not stop until I do that.” In 2014, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled Perritt, as well as two others who are serving mandatory life sentences for offenses committed while the defendants were juveniles, would not have their cases reviewed, thus barring them from parole eligibility. It was noted that this decision may be overruled by the federal Supreme Court, however.
Barnett, Kyle. “Supreme Court rules that 3 locals serving life in jail will not have cases reviewed.” Herald Guide. January 17, 2014. Accessed: October 7, 2020. https://www.heraldguide.com/news/supreme-court-rules-that-3-locals-serving-life-in-jail-will-not-have-cases-reviewed/
Barnett, Kyle. “Brutal 1981 murder continues to haunt victim’s sister.” Herald Guide. September 14, 2012. Accessed: October 7, 2020. https://www.heraldguide.com/news/brutal-1981-murder-continues-to-haunt-victims-sister/
Barnett, Kyle. “Infamous rape, murder case may get another look.” Herald Guide. August 10, 2012. Accessed: October 7, 2020. https://www.heraldguide.com/news/infamous-rape-murder-case-may-get-another-look/
“Brogdon Executed in Louisiana.” Associated Press. July 30, 1987 (archived: https://apnews.com/article/e1f51305b29299099372719e94fa603f)
State v. Brogdon. 426 So. 2d 158 (1983). STATE of Louisiana v. John E. BROGDON. No. 82-KA-0925. Supreme Court of Louisiana. January 10, 1983 (archived: https://law.justia.com/cases/louisiana/supreme-court/1983/82-ka-0925-0-1.html)
“Teen sentenced.” The Times [Shreveport, Louisiana]. May 16, 1982
“Confession rejected.” The Times. November 14, 1981