Snapped, Oxygen’s famous true crime series, recently brought up the case of Connie Brown. Connie was a mother of three when she was arrested for conspiring a plan which led to the death of her husband, Billy Ray Brown. The show explores various unique cases of women and what drove them to murder. The show chronicles the life of seemingly ordinary women who commit a dangerous act in the spur of the moment.
Connie Brown was 16 when she met Billy Ray Brown, 22, her father, Johnny Nealy’s coworker. They eventually married and started living together in a trailer outside Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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Growing up, Connie had a rough childhood. Her parents were alcoholics, causing her and her brother, Jamie Heath, to end up in foster care for two years. To escape her home life, Connie readily moved out with Billy.
Connie and Billy soon had three beautiful children named Matthew, Tanner, and Billy Ray Jr. Around 1999, Connie’s parents divorced, so her father moved into a trailer park right next to Connie and Billy Ray’s property.
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The Brown family looked happy from the outside. However, something unthinkable happened on 21st June 2000. Right before 11 P.M. that night, Johnny Nealy called the 911 operator, claiming that two men had entered her daughter’s home and beaten and murdered her husband and his friend.
When the Horry County police looked at the crime scene, they discovered that Billy Ray had been stabbed, beaten, and had his throat slit. Along with his body, they also found that of a man named Ronnie McDowell, Billy Ray’s friend who was staying at their house that night.
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During the questioning of the family members, the police found something strange. Connie’s children, Tanner and Billy Ray Jr., told the same story as their mother. However, neither had seen the two unknown men and took their mother’s word for it. Besides Connie, no one else had seen the intruders.
According to Connie, she had gone to sleep around 10:30 P.M. but woke up due to a loud commotion from the back door. Next, she saw two men wearing dark clothes, with their faces covered, come in and start assaulting her husband. When his friend McDowell tried to stop the men, he was stabbed too.
In a bizarre turn of events, Connie also revealed that one of the masked intruders was, in fact, her brother Andy Nealy. However, when police tracked down Andy Nealy and found Connie and Andy’s mother, Melba Nealy, they confessed the truth.
For some time, Connie told her mother about Billy Ray being increasingly physically violent towards her and her children. There was no way to stop him. She had also told Renee Young, Connie’s sister, who lived in the same place as Melba Nealy.
According to Melba and Andy, on the night of 21st June, Melba, Andy, Renee, and Melba’s boyfriend, Jodis Washington, had driven to the Brown residence to teach Billy a lesson. When Connie opened the door, Andy and Washington had dragged Billy Ray outside and began to beat him. When McDowell stepped in to stop it, he was beaten too, and as the situation escalated, Washington and Andy stabbed and killed both men.
Immediately after the murder and follow-up, Washington and Renee Young went on the run. When they were eventually caught, Renee Young disclosed that they had planned to kill Billy Ray that night.
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However, Connie had been the one to ask them to do something about her husband. Young claimed she was well aware of the plan and willingly opened the door that night, knowing what would transpire.
Following this, all five suspects were put on trial. Washington was the only one declared not guilty and claimed that the family had conspired to include him in the plot.
For testifying against Connie Brown, Melba, Andy, and Renee entered a plea deal, and both women’s sentences were reduced.
Although Connie Brown maintained her innocence and signed a Habeas Corpus writ petition regarding her family’s wrongful allegations, she was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Connie Brown’s claim of being a witness to the crime and not a co-conspirator was shot down by the justice system, and she was held entirely responsible for conspiring to murder Billy Ray.