Daily News from New York, New York on October 13, 1996 · 1166
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Daily News from New York, New York · 1166

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 13, 1996
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co T3 C J IHMMVMJU By JOSEPH McNAMARA BnBIIE SCENIC GRANDEUR of Mount Hood Na- Utional Forest in Oregon was for red-haired Candra Torres, 16, and her husband, Julio, 21, exactly what they thought it would be a celebration of their love on their first wedding anniversary. For pretty Candra and darkly handsome Julio, hiking through the unspoiled wilderness with their collie, Rusty, was worth all the effort and planning that had gone into their camping trip. But on July 24, 1976, the world turned upside down for Candra. It was a momentous day of calamity that sent the teenager down a wild path she had never trodden before. The authorities were brought in when Candra and Tom Brown. 29, stumbled exhausted and anguished from the woods on Tuesday, July 27, to report that Julio had been killed. In Oregon City, south of Portland, Detectives Hank Reeves and Lynn Forristall listened intently to the stories of Candra and Brown. Brown, a stranger who had met the lovebirds in the forest a short time before, went hunting deer with Julio on July 24, even though the taking of deer was illegal at that time of year. Brown said that while he and Julio were exchanging a rifle and field glasses, the weapon went off, fatally shooting Julio in the head. Candra nodded in agreement with Brown's story. Then she wept heavily. Brown also explained that he had slain Rusty when the animal started to attack him. Again Candra agreed, between sobs. "Why didn't you come for help immediately?" Reeves asked. "I have a criminal record and I didn't want to face authorities," Brown declared. "I was afraid they wouldn't believe me." Corroborated Story Only after Candra, deeply in shock, had agreed to substantiate his story did Brown decide to leave the woods and report the death, the dark-haired, mustached man said. After giving their statements Candra was driven to her home in Canby, Ore., and Brown went with officers to find the bodies of Julio and the dog. About 200 yards past the campsite, in a clearing, investigators found Julio's body, dressed in hiking gear, facedown, 30 feet from a logging road. The body, four days in the i ntense Ju ly heat, was badly decomposed. The body of the dog. shot once in the head, was found nearby. Brown said he had thrown away the Winchester that to,""" A rf THE STORY killed Julio. He surrendered the Savage rifle that destroyed Rusty. Gaunt-faced, Brown said he and the Torreses decided to team up after meeting in the wilderness because they got on well as they talked. Two days later Brown gave authorities a more detailed statement: "Julio and I walked to the clearing the morning of the 24th. He looked through my binoculars and spotted a deer. He handed the glasses to me so I could see, and I handed the rifle over to him. After I saw the deer, I gave the glasses back to Julio and he handed the gun to me. As it was being passed to me, I grabbed it by the balance with my finger on the trigger. ... It fired . . . and the bullet hit Julio in the head." "And the wife saw this?" asked Forristall. "Yes," Brown replied. "She was standing a couple of feet behind us. Julio fell to the ground, and I scooped up both rifles. Candra started screaming. I ran toward the campsite." The dog, asleep at the campsite, heard the ruckus and ran toward Brown as if to attack, he declared. "I had to shoot him," Brown said. Brown, in shock, sat around the campsite for several hours, he said. "I finally knew that I had to split, that nobody would believe me." he declared. "I told Candra she could do what she wanted, but that I was going into the mountains," he added. "She said I couldn't leave her there, that I'd have to take her back to civilization." " 'No way,' I told her," Brown said. Because Brown knew the forest and she did not, Candra decided to go along with him, the man said. He covered the bodies with ferns to thwart an- 'V ? f , - V ' .-' " I V, t-r - i if , ; ' ;-:;- - i , 'y-M-yy ''y-yyyyyyyyy , . - - - S. .S. ........ .Qfr " X L0EBI1DS no and Candra Torres (top) were on an idyllic anniversary trip in the pristine wilderness of Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon in 1976 when an evil fate put Tom Brown (above) in their path. What followed was murder and rape, for which feral behavior Brown was and still is caged in a prison cell. imals before heading into deep woods with Candra trailing him, he added. After three days, Brown's panic subsided and Candra said she would support his account of the tragedy. He led her out of the woods to Oregon City. Brown took a lie detector test and passed. Nagging Agony According to the autopsy, Julio died from a slug to the head that entered his right cheek and emerged from the left side of his neck. After the funeral, Candra and relatives tried to resume their normal lives. But Candra could not. There was a special torment that the authorities could not guess at, and not even Candra herself could put a finger on it She could recall vividly the start of their camping trip, the meeting with Brown. She had been a bit afraid of him at first, but later she thought she liked him. However, the shooting and the three days afterward were a blur in her mind. She kept hearing the boom of the gun, though, and the sight of Julio's blood never left her. Finally, on Aug. 2 Candra and her parents went to the authorities. "It wasn't an accident! Tom Brown deliberately killed Julio!" Candra cried. She had not seen the shooting, she said. Brown told her about it And afterward he raped her several times, she said. It was a classic case of brainwashing, it developed, similar to the mind-bending of the Korean War. While in the wilderness, Brown repeatedly told her the shooting was accidental and that she had seen it. He argued that she should return with him and confirm his story. At first, detectives wondered how she could lie for a man who had killed her husband and then raped her. They were even less convinced when she failed a lie-detector test. In fact, she failed several more polygraphs. However, Dr. J.H. Trelea-ven, head of the Psychiatric Security Unit of Oregon State Hospital, examined her and said the slayer had practiced such skillful brainwashing it might be some time before Candra remembered exactly what had happened. He said all the elements of brainwashing were there: psychic shock (the murder), isolation, programing and a prom- ise to reward and the need to alleviate guilt. J The reward was that Candra might escape with her life.; Most important, said the psy- chiatrist, was that she wanted to believe that the death had been accidental. This, said the shrink, would relieve her of knowing that Julio had died because Brown wanted her and was willing to kill to get her. I In December 1976 Brown was indicted for murder. But the state's case was shaky. Candra recoiled from the intense questioning. Finally, criminal investigator Jim Byrnes told her he would not question her further, that she should write down exactly what had happened. 'i Result: an 18-page account Candra said Brown killed the dog out of malice. "If I leave you here, it won't be alive," the woman quoted Brown as saying. He said he had killed six people in other states, she added. Deep in the wilderness they stopped for water. She went into a pond to cool herself. "I wasn't even thinking of sex, so I figured he wasn't either," she said. "Suddenly he told me to take my top off." "You've just murdered my husband," she wailed. "Please don't do this." Time To Remember But at knifepoint he raped her, Candra said. When, days later, Brown finished with her, she believed everything had happened just the way he said it had. It took her weeks to realize the truth. At trial, the prosecution's case was bolstered by Brown's admission to a fellow prisoner that he had committed the murder. He drew a sentence of life in Oregon State Penitentiary. He is still there. U & t. . S. . & - V .t- .

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