THE BRONX -- Christine Jackson will mark her 86th birthday on April 29, but she’s still haunted by another date in April that scarred her life forever: April 8, 1982.
That’s when she found her 22-year-old daughter, Felice, dead in a bathtub -- the victim of a barbaric beating.
“She was sitting up in the tub,” the former hospital worker recalled. “She wasn’t laying down flat. She was propped up a little bit.”
Felice Jackson, the mother of a young son, had been brutalized in her sixth floor bedroom at 784 Fox Street in the Bronx, before her body was dragged to the bathroom, the killer using a hanger around her neck to get her to the tub.
Jackson’s mother lived on the third floor and had come to check on her daughter, before heading out to a job interview.
“She had 20 holes in her head,” Jackson’s mother remembered. “She was fighting him with her high heels. Blood was coming out of her ears, out of her eyes.”
Jackson’s family didn’t initially have a suspect in mind.
Then, a month later, Christine Jackson’s nephew, 25-year-old David Brown, was arrested for the fatal beating of his girlfriend at another, Bronx apartment.
The victim, Gloria Johnson, was also found in a bathtub, with a hanger around her neck.
A witness saw David Brown leave Johnson’s apartment on Mother’s Day 1982, and police discovered fresh scratches on his body, along with Johnson’s jewelry in his possession.
Brown pleaded guilty in court to Gloria Johnson’s murder and was eventually sentenced to 15 years to life.
But Brown’s relatives were troubled about the eerie similarities to his cousin, Felice Jackson’s murder.
They also started questioning the circumstances surrounding the death of Brown’s maternal aunt, Benita Brisbon, in February 1982—two months before Felice’s murder.
Brisbon owned a Harlem brownstone and used to let her nephew stay there sometimes.
But the family said they were scared of Brown, because he smoked angel dust.
Brisbon had been dead in her apartment for a week, before anyone discovered her.
“She was on her knees like she was saying her prayers,” Christine Jackson said.
“All these murders happened the same year,” Velma Jackson, Felice’s sister, observed. “February, April, and May.”
“My brother went to jail to see his son,” Christine Jackson told PIX11. “He said, ‘Did you kill your aunt and your cousin?’” Jackson said. “He told his father he killed all three of them,” Jackson recalled.
Christine Jackson said when her brother went to police and they confronted Brown, “He said my brother lied.”
David Brown, now 59 years old, spent 32 years behind bars for Gloria Johnson’s bathtub murder, before New York State released him from prison last year.
He was sent to live at the men’s homeless shelter on 30th Street in Manhattan and he remains on parole.
Velma Jackson said although Brown had a severely troubled childhood—he was born addicted to heroin and put in an abusive, foster home—she wants the truth to come out.
“I do feel some empathy, but I do feel he should be charged with that crime,” Velma Jackson said about her sister’s murder.
But there are problems with Felice Jackson’s case. The family said police told them some of the blood evidence went missing, when case files were moved from the 41st Precinct to a new location.
David Brown was never charged with Felice Jackson’s murder, and he has never confessed to any involvement.
A police source told PIX11 the case is still “active” and said the family’s information was accurate.
The Jackson family told PIX11 the “Cold Case” squad interviewed David Brown after his release from state prison last year.
“I’m never going to give up,” Velma Jackson, a retired Corrections Officer, told PIX11.
Christine Jackson hopes the case is resolved while she is still alive.
She is the mother of 12 children. Seven of them are dead, four of them dying from AIDS , due to IV drug use; one of them a murder victim, one of them shot by police--while he robbed a cab driver with a toy gun, and one a suicide.
“I have five left,” Christine Jackson said of her children.
And Velma Jackson is the strongest voice—for her mother—and her murdered sister, Felice.