Husband charged with first-degree murder of UI Health Care budget official JoEllen Browning

After more than six months of little information from authorities on JoEllen Browning’s death, the UI Health Care budget official’s husband Roy Browning was charged with her first-degree murder on Monday.


Photo of Roy C. Browning contributed by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

DI staff

READ THE MOST RECENT UPDATE: Records shed light on potential financial motive behind husband’s alleged murder of JoEllen Browning

The husband of University of Iowa Health Care budget official JoEllen Browning, Roy C. Browning Jr., was charged Monday with first-degree murder of his wife a little more than six months after her death, according to Johnson County Sheriff’s Office booking information.

JoEllen Browning, 65, was killed April 5 in her home at 114 Green Mountain Drive. Authorities said Iowa City police responded to a call for a welfare check at 6:59 a.m. that day and found her unresponsive. 

Final autopsy results released April 10 showed JoEllen Browning died of sharp-force injuries, though her death was determined to be homicide early in the investigation, Iowa City public-information officer Sgt. Derek Frank previously told The Daily Iowan.

RELATED: Iowa City police: UI Health Care budget executive homicide investigation active

Investigators have not named any suspects in her murder until now. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa City police, Johnson County County Attorney’s Office, and the Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Office all worked on the investigation. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation later took over.

“We called in the DCI because our investigation division was swamped,” Frank told the DI in August. “We’ve been trying to assist them. It hasn’t been put on the back burner; they are still actively investigating it.”

RELATED: Final autopsy results show UI Health Care employee died of sharp-force injuries

Iowa City police couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. 

Iowa City attorney Leon Spies is representing Roy C. Browning Jr. Spies has previously represented John Bloomfield and UI lecturer Jeffrey Nock, who were accused of first-degree murder and sexual harassment, respectively. 

According to an obituary published by the Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service, Browning grew up in Iowa City. She graduated from West Branch High School in 1972 and the UI in 1976.


The director of operating budgets at UI Health Care for 42 years, a neighbor described JoEllen Browning as “the nicest person you could ever know,” The Daily Iowan previously reported. She was planning on retiring in February 2020. She was also a Eucharistic minister at the Newman Catholic Student Center. 

“[She was] an outstanding senior-level finance leader,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by this loss.”

Browning is survived by her two children and four siblings. 

Kayli Reese and Brooklyn Draisey contributed to this article.