POMEROY, OH — Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against an Ohio man in order to allow murder charges against him to go forward.

Ernest Michael Roach, 36, of Racine, Ohio, alleged killed Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes last month, not long after the Kanawha County teenager was reported missing. He’s been charged with the death in Meigs County, Ohio. Brown’s body was found along the Ohio River Aug. 30.  

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The body of Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes, was found along the Ohio River Aug 30.

Roach was charged with a federal crime for traveling across state lines to have sex with Brown. Investigators said he answered a Craigslist ad posted by Brown.

Federal prosecutors dropped the charge Tuesday to allow the murder charge to go forward “without delay.”

Meigs County Prosecutor Colleen Williams told MetroNews Tuesday the decision came after several days of discussions.

“They’ve (federal prosecutors) been very helpful and cooperative with me,” she said. “Murder being the higher charge allows me to prosecute him first in Ohio.”

Roach remains in the South Central Regional Jail. He has an extradition hearing scheduled in Kanawha County Circuit Court for next Monday.

Prosecutor Williams said she has the option of taking the murder charge against Roach directly to a grand jury. The next grand jury meeting in Meigs County is set for Friday. She said a decision had been made but she couldn’t speak to it.

“I’m not allowed to comment on cases that may or may not go before that grand jury,” she said.

Police have said Roach claims to have first met Brown in July after answering a Craigslist ad. In a videotaped confession, Roach claimed he then picked up Brown in Cross Lanes on Aug. 9, took her to Ravenswood and paid her $25 to have sex again.  Cell phone records put the two in Ravenswood on the morning of Aug. 10 — the same day Brown was first reported missing.

Brown’s body was found along the Ohio River wrapped in a plastic tarp and tied to a cement block the same day Roach was picked up as a person of interest in her disappearance.

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  • Connie

    Thank you Mark for defending this child! While she unable to speak!

  • Mark Halburn

    Stop blaming the child. Yes, the child. While she was a teenager, the adult reached out to her, allegedly had sex with her, and allegedly killed her. He has the responsibility to not respond to a teenage girl's overtures and walk away. Now he faces the death penalty, which, sadly, will never bring back the Brown family's little girl. All of this was avoidable with some responsibility and restraint by the adult!

  • Giles Brandt

    To a point I agree with you...but only to a point. Did the girl screw up? Yeah, but I don't think you deserve to die for basically being a prostitute (which essentially is what she was doing though maybe not on a "professional" level). At the same time there is a parent or two parents that need to bear some blame here. We had this discussion at work and one of my co-workers stated that "it doesn't matter how well you teach/raise them, they can still mess up". I don't know that I totally agree with that. Somewhere along the line there was a parent(s) who failed to educate their daughter about the real world dangers of associating with total strangers, they failed to teach her to respect herself and her own body, they failed to instill a decent amount of morals into her life. Just a bad situation all around for everyone involved.

  • Ricky

    Lets not forget, the stupid hillbilly who posted this comment. She was the one who posted this comment, and if she had not, we all would not be dumber for reading it.

  • Dave. Just Dave

    The picture included with this article is intentionally trying to mislead. I'm pretty sure in real life, and in particular situations, she appeared not so innocent or young.

  • Dave. Just Dave

    Save your moral outrage until all the facts in the case become public. This is probably going to turn out to be a straight up murder, the lurid understory leading up to it is just ... a lurid story where the guilt is spread over both parties.

    The 'sex crime' against this guy was/is probably going nowhere due to the circumstances of the young girl's actions.

    Either he freaked after finding out her age or there were drugs involved and he disposed of her body.

    Very, very sad and tragic.

  • Stupid Hillbillies

    The feds, in an anticipated action, withdrew from the case. Their involvement allowed more latitude in the securing of evidence. This is a common practice.

    Hopefully, this animal gets his day with the needle, though it would be cheaper if a length of rope with a 13-twist swing or a copper coated lead implant were employed.

    Lets not forget, the "victim" is who originally facilitated the ability for this crime to have occurred. She was the one who placed the "craigs list" ad offering herself for sale in return for sexual favors. Had she not, none of this would have occurred. Her actions led to her demise and the subsequent consequences. Did she deserve to die? No, but she did play a major role in her death.

  • Moco man

    They cried the execution in Oklahoma was a failure..........that was an execution carried out to perfection. ...........

  • knows

    problems with the lethal injection system just means that its considered inhumane which is BULLS#@%......if someone does something like this why the hell should they be treated better then the victims are.... fry the rotten bastar#% slowly and painfully and don't wait 15 or 20 years. victims don't get all those appeals besides he's going to hell anyway

  • Molon Labe

    The federal system has it also, but the USAO is to lazy to push that issue. Easier to "let someone else do it".

  • ViennaGuy

    Yes, Ohio has the death penalty, although it is currently on hold due to issues with the lethal injection system they use.

  • griff

    does anybody know if Ohio has the death penalty. he really doesn't deserve to get off that easy but would be better than the tax payers having to feed him the rest of his life. Shame he can't be treated like that young girl was.