An Iowa man charged with killing his wife after she noticed the couple’s depleted savings account was set to gain more than $2.6 million from her death, court records show.
Roy Carl Browning Jr., 67, was plummeting further into debt and had no reliable income to depend upon when his wife of 43 years, JoEllen Browning, was found fatally stabbed in their Iowa City bedroom on April 5, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.
An hour before she was found dead, the 65-year-old woman, the director of operating budgets at the University of Iowa Health System, had been set to meet with a banker to discuss their drained savings account, as well as loans her husband took out with her knowledge, according to a criminal complaint.
As his wife’s primary beneficiary, Roy was set to receive millions in the event of her death, primarily from retirement accounts, according to court records cited by the newspaper.
Roy was charged with first-degree murder in late October, some seven months after JoEllen died from stab wounds to her torso and left hand.
It’s unclear how much money — if any — Roy spent since that time, but he could have taken sole control of $2.6 million in funds and other assets as the executor of his wife’s will and the beneficiary of her retirement accounts, the Press-Citizen reported.
The alleged murder weapon used to kill JoEllen has not been found, but investigators have said Roy’s DNA was discovered beneath his wife’s fingernails.
Roy’s attorney, meanwhile, declined to discuss details about his alleged financial woes, but disputed accusations that he had no way of supporting himself, citing real estate and personal property in eastern Iowa.
“Those are allegations, and they can be addressed appropriately in court or in an appropriate hearing,” attorney Leon Spies told the newspaper.
Spies also refused to indicate if Roy spent any portion of the multimillion estate since his wife’s death.
Investigators claim Roy took out at least four loans worth $4,000 each with an interest rate exceeding 300 percent and told an Illinois company not to contact his wife about the dough.
He also paid off a $17,600 credit card debt in his wife’s name with his personal checking account, and kept using the card after her funeral, court records show.
Roy has yet to enter a plea on the murder charge and is due back in court on Dec. 9. He remains the executor of his JoEllen’s estate but won’t get his hands on her money if he’s convicted in her death, the Press-Citizen reported.
“You can’t inherit if you kill someone,” an attorney in Davenport that handles probate cases told the newspaper. “Iowa law says if the person caused them to die, they don’t get a stake.”
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