*48 Hours* Charlie Brandt

Posted on Mon, Jan. 30, 2006

Carl ?Charlie? Brandt has grown up. But his actions again force police to
ask why?
By Ron Shawgo
The Journal Gazette
Hurricane Ivan was approaching the U.S. mainland as Carl Brandt and his
wife, Teri, made their way north from their home in the Florida Keys.

They would visit family, bake bread and tell jokes during the evacuation.
Carl would have a telephone reunion with his three sisters. The couple would
stay overnight with Teri?s niece near Orlando.

As they packed their 2002 white Subaru Outback and started on the 400-mile
trek up the coast, it is unclear whether after 18 years of marriage Teri
Brandt knew she rode with a killer.

Few knew Carl Brandt?s history.

Adjustment reaction of adolescence, the doctors called it: a response to a
stressful situation that usually lasts no more than six months.

The night 13-year-old Carl ?Charlie? Brandt killed his pregnant mother and
seriously wounded his father in Fort Wayne, the night he rose from doing
homework and shot them both without word or reason, was left in the past ?
33 years in the past.

His family never talked about it.

But it wasn?t forgotten.

Quietly resonating through the years, Jan. 3, 1971, would surface like a
horrid omen in the shadow of the hurricane, as the tempest inside Charlie
Brandt once again stirred, forcing his dad and sisters to face a tragic
truth: Little Charlie Brandt ? who loved his parents and still shot them;
who told police he was somehow forced to do it ? had not disappeared with
the passing years.

Police: Did you get any enjoyment when you shot your parents?

Charlie: No. I didn?t want to. That?s the thing, because I loved my parents.
We were happy.

Charlie spent a year in an Indianapolis mental hospital after the shooting.
When he was released, his father, Herbert Brandt, took a leave of absence
from his job at Fort Wayne?s International Harvest plant and moved his
family to a little house in Ormond Beach, Fla., the Brandt?s longtime
vacation spot north of Daytona Beach.

After his hospital stay, Charlie seemed more outgoing, social, relaxed.

It would be a time of adjustment for the family, and for Herbert Brandt, a
time to move on.

Although he would later settle in Ormond Beach, after a year in Florida,
Herbert Brandt remarried and moved with his two youngest girls ? Jessica and
Melanie ? back to Fort Wayne, to resume his Harvester job.

Charlie, 16, and Herbert Brandt?s oldest child, Angela, 18, remained in
Florida. Angela moved out on her own, and their grandparents arrived from
Germany to stay with Charlie as he attended high school.

After graduating in 1974 and earning a two-year degree from a community
college, Charlie became an electronics technician, a radar specialist.

As the years passed, distance grew between Charlie Brandt, the troubled kid
who killed his mom, and Carl Brandt, the successful professional.

Charlie?s education led him to several good jobs. By April 1985 he was
working at the Ford Aerospace and Communications Service, Electronic Warfare
Range in Astor near Daytona Beach when he met Theresa Helfrich on a blind

Charlie had girlfriends over the years. But Teri ? then a manager of a
retail store in Daytona Beach ? was special. He wanted to marry her.

Charlie?s past was about to clash with his future, and he needed Angela?s

Should I, he asked his sister, tell Teri about what I did?

His family never believed Charlie understood the enormity of what he did.

Angela held nothing against her brother, but after becoming a mother in
1979, she didn?t want him spending the night in her house, either. Clear in
her mind was that Sunday in 1971 when shots roared like firecrackers. and
Charlie ran into her bedroom pointing a gun. If he hadn?t emptied it
shooting their parents, he might have killed her, too.

Police: If your sister would have gotten in your way that night, you think
that you would have killed her?

Charlie: It?s hard to say. Probably ? anybody.

Like her father, Angela talked around the subject. As she sat on her couch
and the tears began to pour, Angela, then 30, leveled with her brother.

Yes, tell Teri. If you do and she doesn?t marry you, then you?ll just have
to live with that. If you don?t, somehow, sometime she might find out and
that?s not going to go over well.

OK, Charlie said, I?ll take your advice.

Charlie and Teri were married Aug. 29, 1986. No family members were invited.

The couple settled in the Keys, where Charlie worked as a radar technician.
They built a 1,000-square-foot home on Big Pine Key and lived on the water.
They were Piners, as residents called themselves, and big Jimmy Buffet fans.

To family and friends, life seemed good. Charlie and Teri traveled, boated
and fished together, and even made each other?s lunch. They did everything

But trouble struck their tropical paradise.

In July 1989, just months after the couple moved to Big Pine Key, the body
of Sherry Perisho was found floating face down under a bridge 1,000 feet
from the Brandt?s Big Pine Key home. Fishermen had snagged her remains.

Perisho, 38, lived in a small boat and had been seen riding her bike earlier
that day. She had been in the water no longer than 12 hours. Divers found
her throat slit, and, with a surgical incision, her heart removed.

By 1993 puzzling phrases began to pepper Teri Brandt?s daily planner:
?Charlie a little depressed,? ?started to talk things out ? talkative time a
bit emotional,? ?Charlie called very emotional,? ?Charlie had a rough day,?
?weird talk and not a good night.?

Marital problems? Stress from day-to-day matters? Work? Something darker?

In November 1995, along a Miami-Dade County highway that Charlie would have
used to get in and out of the Keys, the mutilated body of Darlene Toler, a
35-year-old prostitute, was discovered in a plastic bag. The head and heart
were missing.

There was a Charlie Brandt that friends and family didn?t know. A Charlie
who fantasized about death, who liked to visit Web sites depicting female
autopsies with living models made to look dead. He used Internet search
terms like ?dead women autopsies,? ?disembowelment,? and ?dark fantasies.?

Police: ?Why did you get the gun at this time??

Charlie: ?I can?t really remember. I felt sort of weird. Maybe it was
something I saw on TV. I saw ?Chamber of Horrors.? This guy sort of liked
chopping people.?

When Herbert Brandt?s second wife died in March 2001, Charlie stayed with
his father for a few days. A nice gesture, thought Jessica, one of Charlie?s
younger sisters. All three siblings reunited for the somber event. But
Angela would remember the reunion with a bit of trepidation. Charlie didn?t
meet her gaze. He wouldn?t look her in the eye.

As Florida?s summer of hurricanes came to an end in 2004, Angela would have
little doubt why.

In the wake of Hurricanes Charley and Frances, Ivan would kill 68 people in
the Caribbean before threatening the Keys. Residents were told to evacuate
Sept. 9, 2004.

Jessica, who lived near their father in Ormond Beach, called her brother to
check in.

We?re packing up to leave, Teri told her. We?re staying with my niece,
Michelle Jones, near Orlando. Maybe we?ll see you this weekend.

Charlie and Teri arrived at Jones? house Saturday, Sept. 11. On Sunday,
Charlie called his dad about noon and said he and Teri were in Orlando and
would like to come by. They arrived about 2 p.m.

The three made bread, drank some beer and laughed for a couple of hours
before heading to Jessica?s house for a lasagna dinner. Charlie took
pictures. He and Jessica talked to their two other sisters by phone.

During the call, Angela, an hour?s drive away, asked to meet Charlie the
next day for a visit.

Sorry, I have plans, Charlie told her. Maybe next time. Good talking to you
again, Angie.

As the evening came to a close, Charlie held his dad and Jessica tightly. A
hug and pat on the back was routine for Charlie, but this was longer, more
intense. Jessica and Herbert both noticed.

After saying their goodbyes, Charlie and Teri left for Michelle Jones?

Police: Were you happy with your family?

Charlie: Yes.

Police: Had a nice family?

Charlie: Yes. Other kids wished their family was like ours.

Jones, 37, an advertising executive with the Golf Channel, lived in a
four-bedroom house with a pool and screened-in porch in Maitland, a city of
12,000 north of Orlando. A community with plenty of sunshine and little

Charlie hadn?t wanted to evacuate. Be prepared and stay home, was his motto.
And at Jessica?s house Sunday, he was pressing to leave for home the next
day. The hurricane had already gone around the Keys and was heading up the
middle of the Gulf.

But something changed.

Charlie had a fondness for Michelle. Maybe that was it. She could have been
a model, Charlie thought. He talked about her at work. Her name is Victoria,
he told a co-worker, Victoria?s Secret.

On Monday, Teri told one of her sisters by phone that she was displeased
Charlie wanted to stay another day.

By Tuesday, Jessica assumed Charlie and Teri were home or heading that way.
She e-mailed them for a bread recipe Wednesday, sure they were back by then.

But Wednesday night the couple?s Outback was still parked in Michelle?s
driveway. Two newspapers, still wrapped in plastic, lay in the front yard. A
black mailbox left of the front door was stuffed with mail.

A midnight call that night jolted Angela awake.

I have really bad news, her father said. Bodies were found at Teri?s niece?s
house. Something bad has happened. I just feel it.

Angela knew the feeling. She?d felt it before. But there must be some
mistake. She finally fell asleep two hours later refusing to believe it.

Police got the call at 7:43 Wednesday night. It would take them two days to
inventory Michelle Jones? home. They began in the living room.

Two canvas travel bags and a blue Coleman cooler containing water and juice
bottles sat against a wall. A photo box with a drop of blood on the lid lay
on a coffee table. A wine glass sat on an end table.

Slumped in a sitting position on the far right end of a couch and wearing
only a yellow T-shirt was Teri Brandt. She had been stabbed in the chest
several times.

Down the hall in the master bedroom the body of Michelle Jones lay on the
bed. She had been stabbed once in the chest and decapitated, her head placed
next to her body. Her left leg was detached at the hip, her breasts and
heart removed and left on the bed. Two bloodstained kitchen knives were

Scattered on the floor, cut through with a knife, were assorted panties and
bras ? Victoria?s Secret.

This was no aberration.

Before changing his bloody clothes and leaving them on the master bedroom
floor, and with the precision of someone who had done this before, Charlie
Brandt spent a great deal of time with Michelle. Behind a bedroom door at
his home in the Keys was a female anatomy poster with the left side exposed
to the skeleton.

The ritualistic nature of the killing matches the ones in Big Pine Key and
Miami-Dade County, plus 26 others with similar characteristics found in an
FBI database.

Charlie?s work included travel and provided him the opportunity. A Fort
Wayne grand jury three decades before cautioned that 13-year-old Charlie
might kill again.

Carl ?Charlie? Brandt, serial killer.

Police: ?Why did you get the gun originally, Charlie??

Charlie: ?It?s sort of a, like I was programmed or something, just inside of
me. I was just forced to do it.?

How many slayings and what made Charlie Brandt snap, might never be known.

Inside Michelle Jones? garage, among the tools, outdoor supplies and
Christmas decorations; between a blue Mazda Miata and a black Acura sedan, a
yellow bed sheet swung from the wooden rafters above. Hanging from it by the
neck was Charlie, dressed in a white polo shirt and blue shorts, his legs
dangling 2 feet above the floor. A 6-foot metal stepladder stood within


Two days after the grisly discovery, Angela sat outside a police station
struggling with the truth. Inside, her sister Jessica vainly attempted to
explain her brother?s actions.

Searching for a reason, Jessica mentioned that the mother she knew only
through the eyes of a 3-year-old had died in a car accident.

In 33 years, Herbert Brandt never told his youngest daughters that their
brother killed their mother.

Angela ? who heard the shots, who listened to her brother?s cries of
betrayal, who encouraged him to be truthful with Teri ? also bore the pain
of the past.

Through police interviews with Herbert, Jessica and Angela Brandt, that past
would be exposed.

But whether Teri Brandt knew is impossible to say. Her family believes
Charlie never told her.

Angela is unsure. Charlie said he did.

In welcoming Teri to the family, Angela had called her a special person.

Charlie told you about himself, and you married him anyway, she said.

Maybe Teri took it as a joke. She smiled and gave Angela a hug.

Good, thought Angela. She accepts him. They?re going to live happily ever




This story makes extensive use of police interviews with Carl ?Charlie?
Brandt and his family.

It is based on Allen County Sheriff?s Department records from 1971,
including transcripts of interviews with Charlie, his father, Herbert, and
sister, Angela.

Further information was provided by Allen County Sheriff Jim Herman, who was
new to the department when Charlie killed his mother in 1971, and Capt.
James Quinn, who was first on the scene.

Also used were transcripts of interviews with Herbert and Angela Brandt and
Charlie?s younger sister, Jessica, conducted in September 2004 and provided
by the Seminole County Sheriff?s Office, Sanford, Fla. A 35-page timeline of
Charlie and Teri Brandt?s financial and personal records also was used.

Further background was gathered through phone interviews with investigator
Rob Hemmert of the Seminole County Sheriff?s Office. Hemmert is lead
investigator of the Teri Brandt and Michelle Jones slayings. Seminole County
Sheriff Donald Eslinger also was interviewed.

Accounts of two of the deaths Charlie Brandt is suspected of committing ?
Sherry Perisho and Darlene Toler ? came from a 1989 Monroe County, Fla.,
sheriff?s department report, in Perisho?s case, and from the Orlando
Sentinel newspaper.

Phone messages left by The Journal Gazette for Herbert, Angela and Jessica
Brandt seeking comment were not returned. Hemmert said the family has
rejected all interview requests from the media.

After the September 2004 deaths of Charlie and Teri Brandt and Michelle
Jones, their families issued a brief statement through the sheriff?s office.
It reads: ?Like everyone, we struggle to understand why.?*charlie+brandt*++*michelle+jones*&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=3

Man Who Murdered Family Members May Be Serial Killer

POSTED: 11:57 am EDT October 8, 2004
UPDATED: 4:28 pm EDT October 8, 2004

LOCAL CASE: Girl's Murder Of Interest To Investigators

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. -- Investigators from all over the state are trying to
trace the steps of a suspected serial killer who killed two family members
before killing himself in Seminole County. Investigators believe 47-year-old
Carl Brandt's murder spree ended last month at an Altamonte Springs home.

What is now unraveling could be a murder spree that spans around the world.
Teams of investigators from Miami, the Florida Keys, Florida Department of
Law Enforcement and Seminole County are meeting to figure out just how many
murders they could be dealing with.

They do believe they're dealing with a serial killer and say the unfortunate
findings of Michelle Jones and Teresa Brandt may just be the beginning.

"We're facing this terrible situation and we're dealing with it and you've
just got to put your faith in God and try to move on and remember Michelle
in a positive way. She's a wonderful girl," says Chris Helgoth, a longtime
friend of Michelle Jones.

Helgoth is speaking on behalf of Jones' family and says neither they, nor
anybody, knew what Carl Brandt was capable of doing to his wife Teresa or
Michelle, and, apparently, neither did investigators.

Friday, the task force of detectives from across the state began comparing
notes about the technical engineer they say was described as a doting,
loving husband, but at the same time, a possible serial killer.

"Quite frankly, he lived two lives. He had a deviant fantasy life where he
killed and then he was a devoted, loving husband, a wonderful friend to many
and a great co-worker. He clearly lived two lives, which, in these types of
deviant behaviors, that in itself is not abnormal," says Seminole County
Sheriff Don Eslinger.

They're looking back as far as 1971, when Brandt, just 13 at the time, shot
and killed his pregnant mother in Indiana. Investigators are building a
timeline of where he's been much of his life and where other murders,
involving decapitations and mutilation, may match up.

Crimes they are looking into include the murder of a woman near his home in
the Keys in 1989, with partial decapitation; another in 1995 of a prostitute
in Miami, whose head and heart were missing; a missing 12-year-old girl in
Volusia County, whose skull was found in a rusted paint can; and
investigators from Germany and Holland, where Brandt once visited, say there
were similar crimes there.

"It's just something that we don't understand, but we've got to believe in
the Lord and have faith and know that she's in heaven and in a better
place," says Helgoth.

Detectives their goal, since this isn't a case about prosecution, is about
giving families closure. They, as well as family members, are learning quite
a bit more about Brandt and this duel life they say he was leading.


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