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It was a quiet Monday morning, November, 29, after a busy Thanksgiving weekend at the AMC Theater Multi-Plex in Ahwatukee, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix. At 10 am employees from the Dunbar Armored Car Service were arriving to make their regular Monday morning pick-up. Because it had been a busy weekend, the cash bag was heavy, weighted down by $56,000.
Making the pick-up that Monday morning, was 24 year-old armored car guard Robert Keith Palomares, who went by the name Keith. While Keith's partner followed procedure by waiting in the armored truck, Keith went about his scheduled pick up of cash and receipts from the theater. But this day, Keith's route was anything but routine.
As Keith left the theater complex, a hooded man, dressed entirely in black, came running; gun drawn. Then, without speaking a word, police say the gunman started firing at Keith's head. In all, six shots were fired, five striking Keith. Police say the gunman then grabbed the bag of money and took off towards an alley. The hooded fugitive hopped on a bike and fled.
At least one of the eyewitnesses made a desperate call to 9-1-1, begging for an ambulance and for instructions on how to help Keith. But, it was too late and the injuries far too great. Keith died just outside the movie theater.
In patrolling the area, police quickly found the getaway bicycle. A forensics technician came to the scene and lifted fingerprints from the bicycle. They came back as positive for Jason Derek Brown. But Brown hardly had the profile of a typical killer.
The 35 year-old toy salesman from Utah had ties to some of California's wealthiest coastal communities. He was known for his money and lavish lifestyle, with a long list of possessions, including numerous cars, boats, motorcycles, jet skis and ATVs. But his superficial wealth masked a mysterious man.
The Real Smoking Gun
Police say Jason Brown was in serious debt to several creditors and had defaulted on at least one large loan. In November 2004, while living in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake City, police learned Brown purchased a Glock semi-automatic 45 caliber pistol. According to officials, Brown had also taken a firearms class. Instructor Clark Aposhian, who privately trained Brown, described him as "an obnoxious student" who was inexperienced with firearms.
According to records, Brown completed the class in early November, but had not yet received his actual permit. Police then discovered the type of ammunition used in Keith's murder matched the exact type of bullets Brown purchased on the day he bought his Glock 45 in Salt Lake City.
Cops now know that Brown had been staying at a hotel located a mile from the murder scene -- he checked in on Thanksgiving Day and checked out that following Monday; the evening of the murder.
Via police interviews, a number of people who work at the mall adjacent to the theater said that, in the days leading up to the robbery-murder, they observed Jason Derek Brown sitting in a distinctive BMW M3 outside. According to witnesses, he would sit in front of the theater for lengthy periods of time, surveying the area. But now, the trail has gone cold.
Cops know that on the night of the murder, Brown left Phoenix and went to Henderson, NV, where he checked into a motel. The next morning, November 30, 2004, shortly after the beginning of business, Brown made a cash deposit of $2,000 into his personal bank account. Brown left Henderson and drove to Las Vegas. In Vegas, he took a black Cadillac Escalade out of car storage and parked his BMW in its place; leaving Vegas in the Escalade. Later that day, Brown arrived in Orange County, CA, where he began a series of short stays (a day or two) with various friends and family members. He remained in the area of Orange County until approximately December, 6.
On December 1, 2004, at 4:35 PM, Brown made a cash deposit of $2,300 into his personal account at a Wells Fargo Bank in Dana Point, CA.
On December 6, 2004, a federal arrest warrant was issued by the US District Court of Arizona, charging Brown with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. This marked the last day that anything is known about Jason Derek Brown's whereabouts. It is believed he left Orange County at this time.
On January 16, 2005, cops recover Jason Brown's black Cadillac Escalade, which was abandoned nearly a month earlier. Parking lot records showed that it had been placed in a long-term parking lot at the Portland, OR airport.
Brown shipped a large package to his brother in southern California on December 13th. UPS had a wrong telephone number for Brown's brother, so it could not be delivered. The package was then shipped back to Portland, until UPS could research who it was going to. A few weeks passed before it was re-shipped from Portland to Orange County. By this time, Brown's family was cooperating with police and, when they got notified by UPS that the package was on its way, Brown's family informed the FBI. Inside, they found a set of golf clubs which belonged to Brown's brother, Brown's laptop, one of Brown's cell phones, and nearly ALL of Brown's warm-weather clothing.
While cops are still not ruling out that Jason Brown may have fled to someplace warm (such as Mexico, where he vacationed several times), detectives are now saying he could be in western Canada (another of Jason's favorite vacation spots), the areas of Salt Lake City, Redding, CA, or Portland, OR. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are cooperating with Phoenix police and the FBI to look for him in western Canada.
You mean I don't have to pay for expert advice like this?!