Records shed light on potential financial motive behind husband’s alleged murder of JoEllen Browning

Court records filed Tuesday cast light on a potential financial motive behind Roy Browning Jr.’s alleged murder of UI Health Care budget official JoEllen Browning.


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

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

University of Iowa Health Care budget official JoEllen Browning had questioned her husband about discrepancies in their financial records days before he allegedly stabbed her to death in April, authorities alleged in court records filed Tuesday.

Roy Browning Jr., 67, was charged with first-degree murder of his wife Monday night. He was being held at the Johnson County jail on $5 million bond. If convicted, he faces mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

He called 911 the morning of April 5 to report that he found his wife unresponsive in their residence at 114 Green Mountain Drive. Law-enforcement officials found her dead on her bedroom floor at 7:07 a.m.

According to court records, autopsy results showed she had been stabbed multiple times on the front and back of her torso and on her left hand. Her death was ruled a homicide by sharp-force injuries. Investigators found no signs of forced entry into the home and they did not find the alleged murder weapon.

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Information revealed in the court records casts light on a potential financial motive for JoEllen Browning’s homicide. A review of the couple’s finances show that she was financially stable while her husband did not have a revenue source. She had a retirement account and life-insurance policy worth more than $2 million.

According to the criminal complaint, there were numerous discrepancies between apparent documents of banking records. In one photographed record, there was a listing of a nonexistent account. Another discrepancy showed a balance of $97,830.17 in an apparent photographed statement of a joint account dated Dec. 31, 2018. Financial records provided by the institution, however, showed a balance of $88.76.

Authorities said in the criminal complaint that the photographed statement was missing the line “Interest Paid This Year.” Upon further review, according to the court records, the money from the Brownings’ joint account was moved into an account Roy Browning owned.

An email dated April 1 from JoEllen Browning to her husband shows that she questioned Roy Browning about the discrepancies in their bank accounts and instructed him to contact their financial representative, according to court records.

A review of cellular records revealed a text message sent April 4 from JoEllen Browning to her husband informing him of a meeting she had scheduled for the two with their financial institution at 8 a.m. April 5, according to court documents. Roy Browning responded 16 minutes later at 1:33 p.m. April 4 to indicate he was aware of the meeting that had been scheduled.

According to the criminal complaint, the meeting was reportedly set because JoEllen Browning was preparing to file taxes and wanted to work with a financial representative to sort out problems she had discovered with the couple’s accounts. The representative was prepared to tell her at this meeting that one of their savings accounts was depleted and that her husband had taken out loans of which she was not aware. Additionally, the representative was planning to tell her that an account she understood to be active never existed.

That day, authorities alleged in the court records, Roy Browning went to a local supply and paint store to purchase rubber-palmed nitrile gloves and a package of six white towels, and was given eight-10 latex gloves for free. Multiple searches of the Brownings’ residence, vehicles, business, and person conducted beginning April 5 after JoEllen Browning was found dead did not result in law-enforcement officials locating the items that a receipt the store provided shows Roy Browning purchased.

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Records show Roy Browning took out four separate loans for $4,000 from an Illinois area title and loan company, with each loan having a 304.17 percent interest rate, according to the criminal complaint. The loans were paid off April 2. Investigators say he instructed the company on Feb. 13, 2018 not to contact his wife regarding the loan.

Investigators allege that they discovered Roy Browning continued using a credit card in his wife’s name even after her April 11 funeral. A statement for the month of April 7 through May 6 showed that a $17,643.86 payment was made by phone April 12 to the credit-card company from his individual checking account. The credit card had a balance in that amount on the March 7 through April 6 statement, court records show.

Roy Browning is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing Nov. 8 in Johnson County.