Ashanti Billie was a 19-year-old college student who was abducted from a military base in Virginia and found murdered in North Carolina, and her accused killer, Eric Brian Brown, won’t stand trial.
At around 4 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2017, Billie left her home at the Town Center Apartments and drove to her job in a white 2014 Mini Cooper.
She worked at the Blimpie sandwich shop on base at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Norfolk, where she was scheduled to open and prepare for an inspection.
A surveillance camera captured Billie’s vehicle entering the naval base at 4:45 a.m. She was seen exiting her vehicle in dark-colored clothing, but she never clocked in to start her shift.
At 5:33 a.m., an unidentified man resembling Billie was seen driving away in her vehicle.
About 10 minutes later, Billie’s car was spotted on a home surveillance camera located in the 2100 block of Tallyho Terrace.
13 News Now reported that a witness saw a man get out of the vehicle, walk toward Azalea Garden Road, and throw an object inside a dumpster before taking off.
When Billie’s family learned that she never started her shift at work, they contacted their local police department and reported her missing, which prompted a search by law enforcement officers.
That same day, construction workers found her cell phone in a dumpster on Tallyho Terrace. Five days later, her vehicle was found abandoned in an Ocean View neighborhood.
On Sept. 29, 2017, Billie was found dead in north Charlotte, North Carolina. A landscaper discovered her partially clothed body in a wooded area behind East Stonewall AME Zion Church on Griers Grove Road.
Her head, torso, left shoulder, and right arm were skeletonized.
After performing an autopsy, the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office listed her cause of death as “undetermined trauma.”
Nearly two months later, on Nov. 14, 2017, police arrested and charged Brown, a then-45-year-old homeless Navy veteran, for abducting and murdering Billie.
Police officials stated that his DNA was found on Billie’s body.
During an interrogation, Brown told detectives that he blacked out the day before she went missing and had “no recollection of what he did for several days after that.”
Witnesses told the FBI that Brown would often go to Billie’s job and make inappropriate comments about African American women.
He would reportedly say that he “hates African American women because they are gold diggers, hypnotized by social media, and only want guys with all the money.”
After Brown’s arrest, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and received treatment (involuntary medication) at Butner Federal Medical Center for over a year.
He was later deemed incompetent to stand trial.
During a hearing in December 2019, a chief psychiatrist at FMC Butner told the judge that Brown was able to gain competency because he was showing signs of improvement while they were forcefully medicating him.
If during that time Brown becomes competent to stand trial, he may not be sentenced to death, as U.S. Attorney General William Barr directed prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.
In 2018, Donald Trump signed into law the Ashanti Alert Act. It is a “nationwide alert system for missing and endangered adults between the ages of 18 and 64,” according to WTOP News.
At the time of Billie’s disappearance, an alert was never sent out to the public because she was too old for an Amber alert and too young for a Silver alert.
In September 2020, the judge ruled that Brown would not stand trial after learning that he could not restore his competency with medication.
In a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia stated the following: “The indictment against Eric Brown remains in effect. We can’t proceed with the trial as he’s not competent due to mental illness.”
“We will seek to have him committed to the GOV facility.”
If Brown’s competency is ever restored, he will go to trial for Billie’s abduction and murder.