A Michigan man is guilty of an Ohio killing that took place 30 years ago, and now he has pleaded guilty to charges in a Toledo courtroom. Andrew Gustafson had been a suspect at the time of the 1983 killing of Janean Brown, and he was finally arrested in 2013.
Fox News shares the details of the Michigan man’s guilty plea in the Ohio killing. Brown had been beaten, and was nearly decapitated in the violent killing. Gustafson pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and rape. A judge has now sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
At the time of Brown’s death, Gustafson had been a suspect, but he had not been arrested. A DNA test later linked him to the teen’s death. As the Blade shared long after Brown’s death that there were several suspects the authorities looked at in the months after the 19-year-old was found dumped in a stream with her throat slashed and body stripped. However, nobody was arrested until 30 years later.
In the fall of 1983, Brown started dating a 25-year-old roofer named Harol Estep. After several months of dating, they spent an evening out at the Copper Lantern bar. As Brown left the tavern, she turned and saw a barmaid kissing Estep. Janean was said to be furious, and in the wee hours of the morning, she started walking to her boyfriend’s apartment from the home where she was living, aiming to confront him.
Brown never made it to Estep’s apartment. She ran into a patient at the nursing home where she worked, talked with him, then got into a van in the nursing home lot. She was never seen alive again. When workers at the nursing home were questioned about the van, some mentioned Andy Gustafson as someone who owned a similar van.
Over the years, Gustafson said he didn’t do it and he didn’t know who did. Brown’s body was found on property next to his mobile home about 36 hours after she disappeared. Authorities talked to him during the investigation, as Estep had said Gustafson had been at the bar that night and commented that Janean had a “cute butt.”
Deputies got a search warrant for Gustafson’s van and mobile home and took away boxes of evidence, which included a knife with a speck of blood on it. The van was searched again years later, but no new evidence turned up. Investigators checked into several other suspects as well, and even had a theory about cult activity being involved.
Janean’s best friend, Pam Purney, with whom Brown was living at the time of her death, said that Gustafson and Brown were acquaintances, but nothing more, reveals NBC 24. Purney says that she doesn’t believe that Brown would have gotten into Gustafson’s van if he were alone, and Pam has suspected he was involved all along.
This case making the headlines now reminds some a bit of the recent monster podcast hit Serial, which examined an old case in the search for new answers. While nothing definitive was found to exonerate Adnan Syed in that case, there is a group pursuing DNA testing to see if answers can be found regarding Hae Min Lee’s death.
As the investigation into Janean Brown’s case now shows, there can be hope for families of those killed before current technology and investigative techniques were developed. Those who followed Serial are quite curious to see if DNA testing can provide answers to some of the mysteries still surrounding the case involving Lee and Syed.
Though it took 30 years, the Michigan man pleaded guilty to the Ohio killing. Now those who fought for answers in Janean Brown’s death finally have at least some of the information they’ve spent decades seeking with Andrew Gustafson’s admission of guilt.
[Image via Toledo Blade]