UPDATE: Federal Charge Dismissed Against Murder Suspect

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Victim's Father Speaks Out to Fellow Parents

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Just days after Ericka Brown's murder, her father reached out to WSAZ.com via text, pleading for parents to watch what their kids are doing online

"Make sure parents know who there (sic) kids are talking to and what sites they are on. I would hate the thought of another family is going thru (sic). What me and my wife are going through rite (sic) now," David Brown wrote. "I don't (want) anybody to have to feel the pain my wife and me are going through."

Ericka Brown was a student at Nitro High School.

The Nitro Police Department has a full-time Prevention Resource Officer who stays at the school and speaks to students about threats, including online safety.

"Well you have to keep your guard up every day," Patrolman Ray Blake. "Especially whe your using your phone or your computer at home."

He offered tips for parents and kids to increase safety online.

"Increase the security settings on your Facebook and your Twitter, Instagram to the highest level, you're only protecting yourself," Blake said. "I tell them to be careful who they're friends with."
He also warns kids and parents to watch what pictures they post online, because once they are there, they are there forever."

Blake says most children are taught Internet safety when they are young and may need to be reminded as they get older.

"You kind of hope when they were younger they had that Internet safety class and that it stuck with them for several years," says Blake. "But sometimes they need to be reminded of the daners that lurk out there on the Internet."

Blake says he wants to remind everyone, no matter their age, to be careful where they use their personal information like addresses and phone numbers online.

TIPS

Increase security settings on social media.

Be careful who you add on social media.

Watch what pictures you post and where you post them.

Parents, start young with warnings and remind older kids.

Be careful with personal information.

If you use chat rooms, know who you're talking to.

If you think there is a danger, let someone know
.

UPDATE 9/16/14 @ 4 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The federal charge against the man charged in the death of a teenager from Kanawha County has been dropped to allow the murder case to move forward.

Ernest Michael Roach, 36, of Racine, was charged with intent to engage in any illicit sexual conduct with another person. However, according to court records filed Tuesday in federal court, the charge has been dismissed without prejudice.

According to the federal document, the US Attorney's Office "seeks to dismiss the instant charge without prejudice to permit the murder charge to proceed without delay."

In a federal criminal complaint, Roach admitted during an interview with Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies that he picked up Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes, on August 9 to have sex with her. Roach told investigators that he met Brown after he replied to a Craigslist Ad.

Brown was reported missing on August 10 from her home in Cross Lanes. Her body was found days later along a riverbank in Meigs County, Ohio.

Roach was later charged in Meigs County with her murder.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 9/2/14 @ 6:51 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A search for a missing Kanawha County teen has turned into a murder investigation.

Ericka Brown, 16, was found dead Saturday and the man accused of answering her ad on Craigslist is now charged with her murder.

Brown was reported missing on Aug. 10 from her home in Poca.

Her body was found Saturday morning along the Ohio River in Portland, Ohio, in Meigs County.

Investigators said it was wrapped in a clear tarp with a cinder block attached.

Now, Ernest Roach, is charged with killing her, but that's not the only charge he's facing.

Weeks after Brown went missing, the focus has shifted from search efforts to figuring out why she was killed.

"Obviously, this is a very tragic circumstance. As you could see from the criminal complaint, this apparently arose from a posting on Craigslist," U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said.

Both federal investigators and officials from Meigs County, Ohio, and Kanawha County, West Virginia, have a hand in the investigation.

Court documents show Ericka posted ads on Craigslist looking to do anything for money.

"Our detectives interviewed many, many people that were corresponding with her on the Craigslist. Most of them were ruled out as being involved in this situation," said Kanawha County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mike Rutherford.

Though many responded, investigators said Ernest Roach, of Racine, Ohio, admitted to killing her, after meeting her more than once for sex.

In addition to a murder charge in Ohio, investigators said he's also facing federal charges for traveling across state lines to pay Ericka for sex.

Court documents show he was one of the last people to see her before she disappeared in August.

Officials said cell phone records helped nail down their case.

Investigators said the records show she was in contact with Roach and in the Meigs County area.

"He volunteered to go to be interviewed by our detectives the next day and also take a polygraph test. When our detectives went there, he had fled," Rutherford said.

Deputies said Roach was then arrested in Washington County, Ohio.

"Our detectives were questioning him literally at the time her body was unfortunately found," Rutherford said.

Investigators have not released any kind of motive in this case or how Brown died.

Officials tell WSAZ.com, the penalties Roach faces could mean as many as 30 years behind bars for the interstate sex charges alone.

Meigs County investigators said they started working with the other agencies last week.

Roach is set to be back in court Thursday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for more on this developing story.



UPDATE 9/2/14 @ 9:10 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- WSAZ.com has obtained documents that shed light on the relationship between a teenager from Kanawha County and the man who deputies say is responsible for her death.

According to federal documents, Ernest Michael Roach, 36, of Racine, Ohio, was arrested and charged with intent to engage in any illicit sexual conduct with another person on Friday, August 29. Meigs County Sheriff Keith Woods say Roach will be formally charged with murder Tuesday morning.

In a federal criminal complaint, Roach admitted during an interview with Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies that he picked up Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes on August 9 to have sex with her. Roach told investigators that he met Brown after he replied to a Craig's List Ad.

Brown was reported missing on August 10 from her home in Cross Lanes.

According to federal documents, Brown had placed an ad on Craig's List to meet men prior to July. Investigators say Brown posted one ad on or about August 3 that read "seeking men - w4m I'm looking for $$ ill [sic] do anything for it, I am a girl."

Roach told investigators on August 9 he paid Brown $25 for sex, according to the complaint. Roach says he met Brown one other time in July and paid her money in exchange for sex.

Investigators say cellphone records show the two were in Ravenswood the early morning hours of August 10.

Then, weeks later on August 30, Brown's body was found along the banks of the Ohio River in Meigs County.

Sheriff Wood confirms Brown's body was found wrapped in a clear tarp, tied up and strapped to a cinder block.

Roach is expected to appear before a federal magistrate Tuesday afternoon on the federal charge.

Tuesday morning, authorities in Meigs County, Ohio charged Roach with Brown's murder. The criminal complaint says she was killed on or about August 10.

A cause of death has not been released.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/1/14 @ 6:15 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A gruesome discovery made this weekend will now lead to a murder charge.

The body of a missing teenager from Kanawha County was found along the banks of the Ohio River in Meigs County.

Ericka Brown, 16, had been missing for several weeks.

Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood confirms the girl's body was found Saturday, wrapped in a clear tarp, tied up and strapped to a cinder block. Brown was along the riverbank.

Wood also says Ernest Roach, 36, of Racine, Ohio, has been arrested and will be formally charged Tuesday with Brown's murder. Roach was arrested by Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers.

Roach is already behind bars at South Central Regional Jail in Kanawha County.

Police sources tell WSAZ.com that Roach was picked up early Saturday morning and admitted to killing the girl.

There's no word yet on a motive or whether the suspect and victim knew each other.

On Aug. 10, Brown's parents discovered her missing from their home in Cross Lanes, and immediately called 911.

It was believed she left the house on her own, but they were worried she may be in danger.

Multiple law enforcement agencies have been involved in the investigation, including the U.S. Marshals Service.

Ericka was a student at Nitro High School.

School officials say grief counselors will be on hand Tuesday for her classmates.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 8/30/14 @ 9:30 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A person of interest is in custody in connection with a woman's death.

Sheriff Keith Wood tells WSAZ.com that the woman's body was found along the Ohio River in Meigs County.

The discovery was made about 11:00 a.m., Saturday.

The woman's name nor the name of the person in custody are being released at this time.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/30/14 @ 6:40 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Police are investigating the death of a woman whose body was found in Meigs County, Ohio.

Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood tells WSAZ.com that the body of a woman was found along the Ohio River in Portland.

The discovery was made about 11:00 a.m., Saturday.

Those who found the woman tell WSAZ.com that her body was wrapped up in a tarp with a cinder block tied to it.

The woman's name has not yet been released.

WSAZ has a reporter on the scene.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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