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Authorities move to connect Burke and Brannon murders
Bremerton Police investigators are now working on a theory, with the FBI, that the city's two unsolved murders and a violent assault are connected.
The news comes from an update in the investigation into the Feb. 3 murder of Melody Brannon. The 61-year-old was killed between 5:30 and 6 p.m. on the 1300 block High Avenue in a manner yet unreleased by police, who have also released a sketch of a "person of interest."
Now that suspect is being looked at in relation to the May 3, 2011 murder of 19-year-old Sara Burke, who was stabbed, in the neck, in the 800 block of Warren Avenue at about 9 p.m. Also under consideration is the June 20, 2011 afternoon violent assault of a man walking down Burwell Street – not far from High Avenue.
Bremerton Police Lt. Peter Fisher would not say whether Bremerton Police or the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit decided to pursue a connection between the three crimes.
"Bremerton police are working in concert with the FBI," Fisher said Monday.
What connects the crimes remains largely undisclosed, however Fisher said he could say that the crime locations, the fact that the victims were alone and that the attacks were random are part of the connecting considerations that he could release.
Several Union Hill residents say they feel like the neighborhood has long suffered crime, but that the crime rate has been "escalating" recently.
Police crime statistics for the few blocks surrounding the murder sites and the attack location show that between Jan. 7, 2009 and Feb. 3, 2012 more than 90 "minor" assaults punctuated with domestic violence assault and three charges for deadly weapons were listed. However, those numbers of total reported assaults have decreased each year, with 42 reported in 2009, 37 reported in 2010 and 26 reported in 2011.
Fisher said that he did not have data from which to answer questions regarding any potential tie-in to the neighborhood's overall crime rate and the murder investigations.
Police will not say when they will release more information on the Brannon murder or the possible connection to Burke's death.
The Kitsap County Sherrif's Office and the Port Orchard Police are assisting the investigation.
Residents can expect an increased police presence in the neighborhood with "high visibility" patrols and officers will be out educating residents on ways to increase their "personal safety" as they go about their daily lives in the neighborhood a few blocks from the police station, such as avoid walking alone, carry an alarm, be alert, walk confidently and bring your cellphone.
"If you see something suspicious call 9-1-1," fisher said.