This week, the Lake Erie Murders examine the case of Janean Brown, a nurse’s aide at a nursing home in Ohio, who was brutally murdered one night in 1983.
The case remained cold for nearly 30 years until finally, in 2011, Andrew Gustafson was arrested in Michigan, and sent back to Ohio to answer her murder.
Janean left her friend’s home at 3 am on November 18, she stopped off at the nursing home where she worked and chatted to a resident.
According to the resident, a van pulled into the parking lot, Janean said, “it’s ok, they’re my friends” and jumped in the vehicle. She was never seen alive again.
Janean Brown’s throat was cut
The next day the 19-year-old was found in a drainage ditch, she had been stripped naked, beaten, and raped, and her throat was slit. She had bled out from the laceration to her throat.
Items from the crime scene sat in a police locker for 30 years before advances in DNA forensic science sent officers knocking on Gustafson’s door. It was a cigarette from Gustafson’s van that provided the crucial piece of evidence.
He had only moved to Michigan a year before his arrest, having spent three decades living right by the crime scene.
Gustafson pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and rape, and received an agreed-upon sentence of 15-years, he was also ordered to pay a fine of $40,000.
Friends of Janean Brown had hoped Gustafson would “get more years”
Janean’s best friend Pam Purdy said after the sentencing, “I would have liked to have seen him get more years, but he admitted [to] it. That’s what I needed to hear. I still want to know why, but I’ll never know why.”
Harold Estep, who Janean had been dating, and was considered a suspect for a while said of the sentencing: “It wasn’t enough, but we’ll take what we can get. I don’t think he’ll last 15 [years.] He’s got to live with it, and he’s got to stand in front of God.
More from The Lake Erie Murders
Follow the links to read about more dreadful crimes profiled on The Lake Erie Murders.
Father Gerald Robinson was a twisted priest who murdered Sister Margaret Ann Pahl at the hospital chapel, where they both worked in Toledo, Ohio, in 1980. Robinson choked and stabbed the nun multiple times. The stab wounds were made in the shape of a cross.
Leslie Allen Williams was a habitual criminal who went on a murdering spree in Michigan in the 1990s, killing four teenage girls. On his arrest, he told officers that he needed to be “locked up.”
This episode, Killer Night Out, of The Lake Erie Murders airs 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.