Thomas Phillip Brown of Palm Springs, Calif., faces first-degree murder and armed criminal action charges in connection with the weekend death of Marilyn Jean Brown, his 63-year-old wife. She was found dead Sunday, three days after the couple checked into the Ramada Resort and Conference Center on the Branson strip on Valentine's Day.
Police arrested Brown early Thursday at the Hampton Inn in Branson. Police Chief Kent Crutcher said Brown was the only person in the hotel room.
Brown pleaded not guilty at Thursday's arraignment and was assigned a public defender. He's next due in court on April 16.
It was just the fourth homicide since 2007 in the family-friendly resort community where Andy Williams once reigned. Each of the previous killings over the past six years occurred in hotel or motel rooms.
Former neighbor Joyce Bacon told The Desert Sun newspaper of Palm Springs that the couple moved to Missouri in hopes of finding a more affordable home than their condominium at the Mesquite Country Club in Palm Springs. Brown had worked as a security guard for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs until about one year ago, the neighbor said.
Crutcher said Thomas Brown's adult daughter told investigators that her father opposed the Missouri move. The daughter declined comment to The Associated Press.
"He did agree to finally make the move with his wife," Crutcher said. "We don't know what precipitated (his wife's death). He's not talking."
Thomas Brown was a Vietnam War veteran who grew up in El Dorado, Ark. and was married to Marilyn Brown—his fourth wife— for about a decade, ex-wife Pat Fallin said in an AP interview. She said Brown had recently worked at an Indian casino.
Public records show that Thomas Brown had lived in the Arkansas towns of Union and Calhoun in the early 1990s. He held a California state security and investigative services license from 1992 through 2008, as well as a state security guard's license that expired in June 2012 after 20 years.
Thomas Brown also filed for federal Chapter 7 bankruptcy in July 2012, online court records show. The case was discharged and closed three months later.
Crutcher said Brown had a valid gun owner's permit in California, but would not discuss whether he believed the suspect obtained the weapon used to kill Marilyn Brown through his work duties.
Alan Scher Zagier can be reached at http://twitter.com/azagier