Report: Austin police close case of murdered El Pasoan

EL PASO, Texas - The homicide case of a 29-year-old educator killed on New Year's Day has been closed, according to a report by KVUE in Austin

Police tell KVUE that the Esme Barrera case was closed due to the "death of the offender." Barrera was originally from El Paso and moved to Austin.

James Loren Brown, Jr., 25, was the prime suspect in Barrera's death, who was found in her home on New Year's Day with "multiple sharp force injuries."

Brown died of asphyxia, according to the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office, after being found with a plastic bag over his head in his apartment in January. On Thursday APD announced that Brown was indeed Barrera's killer.

Police believe Brown was involved in at least five attacks on women in Austin.

Read the full KVUE article here.

Barrera was a beloved person in the El Paso and Austin music scenes.

Last month, there was outrage in El Paso and Austin as a logo designed in remembrance of Barrera was recycled by a different group.

Read the What's Up article on the logo dispute below:

Outrage in the El Paso and Austin music communities flared this week at what appeared to be a blatant recycling of the logo honoring Esme Barrera, the beloved El Pasoan and music-scene supporter who was tragically murdered in Austin on New Year's Day of this year.

The UT Austin American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has drawn criticism for its design, which appears to modify the original's image of a hand forming the word for "love" in American Sign Language into a "Hook 'em, Horn" hand sign. Letters forming the word "For ESME" were replaced with "Hooked on ASME," with the capitalized words in nearly identical font.

Andra Litton, a former Austinite and friend of Barrera's, said she was upset over not only the appropriation, but over the ASME logo designer's disregard for the original's sentimental meaning. Barrera, who was 29 at the time of her death, was beloved by many – family members, friends, musicians and music lovers – in both cities. Her killer was not brought to justice.

Litton also knows Charlie Chauvin, the original logo's designer.

"To use this particular image, with the font – was almost sacred," Litton said. "It was the last thing we gave Esme. It was the last thing she gave us, if that makes sense."

The Austinist, an Austin publication, reported online about sightings of the suspiciously familiar ASME logo around town and on the UT-Austin campus. The UT ASME chapter took the logo down from its Facebook page after threats of "legal action," according to an initial apology on the page, which has also since been taken down.

In response to emails and complaints sent to the school, Jayathi Y, Murthy, the chair of the UT-Austin Department of Mechanical Engineering, issued an apology in a personal email to a friend of Barrera's, who has made it public.

"I recently was made aware by your email and others of the improper use of the graphic honoring Esme Barrera by our ASME student organization on T-shirts that the group provides its members," Murthy wrote. "The use of this logo by our students is inappropriate. We are working on remedial actions, and will ensure that it will never happen again. I understand that Esme was a wonderful person, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain that this episode has caused you. Please accept my sincerest apologies."

West El Pasoan Barry Peterson thinks the organization should cease use of the logo, if not for intellectual property reasons, then at least for the sake of not appearing to mock the original.

"ASME and the individual who created the image need to issue apologies, much more so than a representative of the engineering department," he said. "In particular, the ‘artist' owes an apology not only to Esme's friends and family, but to ASME, whom he duped into believing that image was his original work."

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