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Ohio man to be charged in slaying of Kanawha girl

By Kate White, Staff writer
Ernest Roach, 36, of Ohio, will be charged in the slaying of a Cross Lanes teenager. He is being held in the South Central Regional Jail.
Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes, was found dead on a bank of the Ohio River on Saturday. Police will charge a 36-year-old Ohio man with murder in her death Tuesday.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An Ohio man will be charged in the slaying of a Kanawha County teenager, whose body was found Saturday wrapped in plastic along a bank of the Ohio River.

Ernest Michael Roach, 36, of Racine, Meigs County, will be charged with murder Tuesday morning in the death of Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes, according to Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood.

Roach admitted to police he is guilty of the killing, Wood said. He could face additional charges, according to Wood.

Brown was reported missing on Aug. 10. On Saturday morning, campers found her body wrapped in plastic along a bank of the Ohio River at Portland, Meigs County.

“It’s an absolute tragedy,” Wood said. “The whole time we were working on this case, we kept hoping we would find her.”

Roach had been a person of interest since the middle of last week, according to Cpl. Brian Humphreys, with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department.

Kanawha deputies stopped Roach for questioning on Wednesday then obtained a federal felony warrant for his arrest on charges related to Brown’s disappearance.

Roach was taken into custody on those charges after being stopped by an Ohio State Trooper on Saturday morning, according to Wood.

Brown’s body was found while Roach was in custody. He is being held by U.S. marshals in South Central Regional Jail in Charleston but will face the murder charge in Ohio.

The Ohio attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations conducted DNA testing and confirmed Brown’s identity.

An autopsy had not been completed Monday evening.

Wood wouldn’t talk about a possible motive.

“We’re still tying the loose ends with this case,” he said.

Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies had said they believed Brown left her parents’ home on her own but could have been the victim of a crime after leaving.

Police later said their investigation led them to believe Brown could have been heading to the Columbus, Ohio, area.

A photograph of Brown was released to the media of Brown standing next to a brown horse.

David Wayne Brown, the girl’s father, wrote on his Facebook page Saturday, “Rest in Peace my little Elkie Mae.”

On Sunday, he posted, “Ride high cowgirl till we meet again.”

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5163 or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @katelwhite on Twitter.


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