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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: July 6, 2003
Date of arrest: April 30, 2004
Date of birth: May 31, 1962
Victims profile: His wife, Joanie Harper, his sons, Marques and Marshall, his daughter, Lyndsey, and his mother-in-law, Earnestine Harper
Method of murder: Shooting - Stabbing with knife
Location: Bakersfield, Kern County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on September 27, 2007

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Vincent Brothers (born May 31, 1962) is a convicted American mass murderer and the former vice principal of John C. Fremont Elementary School in Bakersfield, California. Brothers holds a Master's degree in education from California State University Bakersfield and a Bachelor's degree from Norfolk State University.

Brothers first gained national attention after the July 6, 2003 death of his wife, Joanie (née Harper), his sons, Marques and Marshall, his daughter, Lyndsey, and his mother-in-law, Earnestine Harper. Although considered a suspect from the beginning, he was not arrested until April 2004. Because of the high media attention surrounding the case, his trial was postponed until February 2007.

During the trial, prosecutors emphasized Brothers' past marriage difficulties. Joanie Harper previously divorced him in 2000, but the couple remarried in Las Vegas in 2003. Brothers was also known to have extramarital affairs, and further compromised his case by lying while on the witness stand.

On May 15, 2007, Brothers was convicted of the murders after jurors viewed 1,100 exhibits and heard testimony from 137 witnesses. Brothers is believed to have used a .22-caliber gun and "a stabbing weapon". His conviction carried the special circumstance of multiple murder. The same jury recommended on May 29, 2007 that the death penalty by lethal injection be imposed.

On September 27, 2007, the Court sentenced Brothers to death. He was later placed into the custody of the California Department of Corrections and placed on death row at San Quentin State Prison.


Convicted Mass Murderer Receives Death Penalty

Two Motions Denied As Daughter Denounces Vincent Brothers

September 28, 2007

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. --On the same day convicted mass killer Vincent Brothers was publicly denounced by his estranged daughter, Margaret Kern, a judge ruled the death penalty for the once well-known vice principal.

During Brothers' Thursday morning sentencing in Bakersfield, two defense motions were also denied in a Kern County court.

Brothers was convicted of killing his wife, Joanie Harper, their three children: Marques, Lyndsey and Marshall; and Joanie Harper’s mother, Earnestine.

His family was found dead on July 8, 2003. Brothers was arrested in April 2004.

Although Brothers showed little emotion during Thursday's sentencing, he was consoled by his lawyer right after the judge in the case denied life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A few minutes before Brothers' death sentence was upheld, a mistrial in the case was also denied.

After a break, tear-filled statements were heard from family members.

In a dramatic courtroom statement, Brothers' only surviving child, Margaret Kern-Brothers, 18, gave a powerful statement. She said she was resigning from the Brothers' family, and that after she walked out of the courtroom, she would forever be Margaret Kern.

She said her father was now just "a man handcuffed to a chair" after she spoke tearfully about some of her dead relatives and revealed a suicide attempt when she was younger over being distraught by her family's death.

She attributed her survived suicide attempt to her mother, who she claimed was determined not to have her daughter become another victim of Vincent Brothers, who stabbed and shot their relatives.

Margaret Kern now attends college in San Diego.

After the statements, the judge ruled that Brothers would suffer the death penalty and pay restitution.

Brothers expressed no emotion as he was escorted from the courtroom.

After the sentencing, ABC23's Leticia Juarez met with Margaret Kern who reiterated that she would only see her father one more time, at the day of his execution.

The day after the sentencing, prosecutor Lisa Green discussed candidly about the confidence she had to have to take on the case. She also talked about the mental preparedness prosecutors have to go through in preparing for such a case.


Vincent Brothers Takes Stand In His Own Defense

Brothers Breaks Silence About Slain Family

April 24, 2007

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- It has been more than three years since the Harper family was found slain inside their Southeast Bakersfield home.

In that time Vincent Brothers has never spoken about the slayings or his whereabouts, but Tuesday afternoon Brothers broke his silence and took the stand in his own defense.

“Joanie, Marques, Lyndsey, Marshall and Mrs. Harper,” Brothers whispered on the stand.

One by one he tearfully read off the names of his slain family members.

Before taking the stand late Tuesday afternoon Judge Michael Bush advised Brothers he had the right to remain silent.

Despite the advice Brothers took the stand as both a grieving husband and father. He recalled for the defense his July 2003 trip to Columbus, Ohio, to visit his brother Melvin. During the visit Brothers said he made a couple calls home. He testified his final conversation with his wife Joanie took place on the Fourth of July.

Brothers said during his Ohio visit he split his time between his brothers Melvin and Troy.

In other testimony Vincent Brothers said he often worked around the Harper home fixing and replacing things for Ernestine.

He said because he suffered from Valley Fever his mother-in-law gave him rubber gloves and a mask to wear for protection.

A glove tip containing Brothers’ DNA was found underneath the upturned purse of Joanie Harper by investigators shortly following the slayings. But, the defense has argued Vincent Brothers’ DNA would be found in the Harper home since he used to live there and he often did odd jobs around the house for Ernestine.

The prosecution believes Brothers drove cross-country during the holiday weekend in order to kill his wife, three children, and mother-in-law Ernestine.

The defense is expected to wrap up its questions Wednesday, then it will be the prosecution’s turn to cross-examine Brothers.


Vincent Brothers

This is 46 year old Vincent Brothers, of Bakersfield, California.

Vincent Brothers had a great job as the vice-principal at the Fremont School, an adoring wife Joanie Harper, and three beautiful children- 4 year old Marques, 23 month old Lyndsey, and 6 week old Marshall. Seems like your average guy, right? Wrong. What makes Vincent different is the fact that he savagely murdered 5 members of his family, including his own innocent children, in cold blood.

The relationship between Vincent and Joanie had not been without it’s share of troubles. Joanie gave birth to Marques Juwan in 1998 (Vincent was not present for his birth) and the two married in 2000. Despite separating a month later, Joanie gave birth to Lyndsey Michelle later that year (Vincent was again absent from the delivery).

The marriage was annulled in 2001, with Vincent Brothers citing irreconcilable differences and Joanie citing fraud, allegedly because at the time of marriage, she had no knowledge of Vincent’s two previous marriages. Despite all the ups and downs, friends and family members all agree that Joanie loved Vincent deeply and was eager to for them to be a family, and they continued to have an on and off relationship. Most people never knew about Vincent’s Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, and those who did certainly never knew the extent of his capabilities.

In January, 2003, Joanie and Vincent remarried, and in May baby Marshall was born. Although Vincent had moved out of the family’s home in April due to discord between he and his mother-in-law Earnestine, he was present for Marshall’s birth and for a little while, things seemed fine. On July 6, 2003, Joanie, her mother Earnestine and the three children attended church services. Although Vincent had left town 4 days prior to visit family in Ohio, it was a special day, with Joanie showing off Marshall to church members for the first time.

After morning services, the Harpers met up with friends, including Joanie’s best friend Kelsey Spann, for lunch then went home to rest until evening services. They never made those evening services.

After calls from friends and family went unanswered, Kelsey decided to stop by the house. She hadn’t seen Joanie since two days earlier and it was unlike Joanie to ignore her calls. Although the house looked fine from the outside, Kelsey found that the door wouldn’t open after she’d used her key to unlock it, so she went around to the patio door and finding it unlocked, let herself in. Her panicked call to 911 came in just after 7 a.m. and police arrived within minutes to find a house of horror.

First, police found Earnestine. She had been shot twice in the face at close range and was laying in the hallway near her bedroom. In another bedroom, police found the bodies of Joanie and the children, still laying in the same spots they had lain Sunday to nap after church.

Joanie was found face-down on her bed, dead from several bullet and stab wounds to her head, chest and back. Lyndsey lay on her left side at the foot of the bed in her little blue dress. She had been killed with a single gunshot wound to the back. Marques was beside his mother on the bed and was covered by a sheet. Police theorize that he awakened before the murders. He was found with his eyes open and a gunshot wound to the right side of the head. Authorities say he had been so frightened immediately before his death, that he had bitten his right hand down to the bone.

Marshall was thought to be missing, but after a search, he was found under a pillow near his mother. He had been shot in the back, just as his sister had.

Police tracked down Vincent Brothers at his mother’s home in North Carolina and broke the news about his family’s murders. Although he was the only person suspected of the crime, he had left for vacation four days prior to the murders and police couldn’t immediately disprove this alibi.

However, a neighbor in Bakersfield reported seeing Vincent near the Harper home around the time of the murders. Rental records for the car Vincent rented in Ohio showed that he put 5,400 miles on it, which was more than enough to travel from Ohio to California and back.

In addition, entomologist who examined the car found bug parts from species only found west of the Rocky Mountains, although Vincent maintained he had never left the eastern part of the country.

One of his alibis was a pair of store receipts for items bought in North Caroline on the day of the murders. Upon examination of those credit card receipts and store surveillance, it was found that Vincent’s brother Melvin had been using Vincent’s card and forging his signature. Initially, Melvin lied when confronted about it, but later admitted that he had done so at Vincent’s urging.

The prosecution alleged that Vincent had carried on several extramarital relationships and that his motive for the killings was greed; Vincent had wanted to relieve himself of the burden of supporting his growing family.

On May 15, 2007 Vincent Brothers was found guilty of five counts of first degree murder and a special circumstance of multiple murders and on September 27th he was sentenced to Death by Lethal Injection by Judge Michael Bush.


Vincent E. Brothers


On Sunday July 6, 2003, Joanie Harper, her three children and her mother, Earnestine Harper, attended Sunday morning church service. It was the first time at church for six-week-old Marshall Harper. After the service they went to dine at the Black Angus before going home. They laid down to take a nap prior to returning to church for the evening service. Joanie and her children were in the rear bedroom while her mother was in another bedroom at the other end of the house.

An intruder, armed with a .22-caliber pistol, entered the house through the backyard and quietly moved to the rear bedroom.

On Tuesday morning family friend, Kelsey Spann, decided to check on her friend Joanie Harper and her family. She had not heard from her in several days and feared something was wrong. She went to a side door and inserted the key given to her by Joanie into the lock. Something was blocking the door keeping her from pushing it open. She walked around to the back of the house and tested the sliding glass door. It was unlocked, something that was very unusual. Kelsey entered the house and walked back to Joanie's bedroom.

A call was placed to 911 at 7 am. When the police arrived at 901 3rd st, they witnessed the horrific scene that Kelsey Spann had stumbled upon:

Joanie Harper - found face down on the bed. She had been shot three times in the head and twice in the arm. She had also been stabbed seven times.

Marshall Harper - the six-week old was found next to his mother under a pillow. He had been shot in the back.

Marques Harper - the four-year-old was found on the bed. He had a gunshot to the right side of his head and his eyes were open. The fingertips of one of his hands had been bitten to the bone. It was surmised that he had seen the killer and frightened he had stuck his fingers in his mouth.

Lyndsey Harper - the two-year-old was found at the foot of her mother's bed. She had been shot in the back.

Ernestine Harper - found in the hallway. She had been shot twice in the face. The pistol she held when she confronted the intruder was found lying next to her body.

Almost immediately after the murders were discovered, suspicion fell on the estranged husband of Joanie Harper, Vincent E. Brothers. He was arrested nine months later and charged with five counts of first-degree murder.

Vincent Brothers was well-known and well-liked in the Bakersfield, CA community. He was respected as a mentor and a Christian family man. Brothers has a bachelor's degree from Norfolk State University and a master's degree in education from California State University - Bakersfield. He began his career as a substitute teacher in 1987 and eventually became the vice-principal of Fremont Elementary School in 1995.

The trial began on February 22, 2007. Brothers pleaded not guilty and claimed that he was in Ohio visiting his brother at the time of the murders. A brother he had not seen in ten years.

The Prosecution:

According to the prosecution, Brothers was an admitted adulterer, who never loved his family and used murder as a means to rid himself of the financial burden his family placed on him. They claimed that on July 2, 2003 he flew to Ohio to visit his brother in order to establish an alibi. When he touched down in Ohio he rented a Dodge Neon from Dollar Rent-A-Car. Detectives seized the rental car and alleged that the records proved that while the car was in his possession, Brothers put more that 5,400 miles on the car. More than enough mileage for him to have driven to Bakersfield and back. Prosecutors contended that Brother's drove approximately 4,500 miles in three days.

The radiator and air filter was taken to the Bohart Museum of Entomology for testing. Prof. Lynn Kimsey from the University of California - Davis took the stand and testified that she found several insect species in the car parts that were found only in the west and that the types of insects found indicated that the car had only been driven at night.

The prosecution introduced video evidence that proved that Vincent's brother, Melvin, used his credit card at Wal-mart. Melvin also admitted to forging his brother's signature and that he had no knowledge of his brother's whereabouts between July 4th through July 7th. Evidence showed that a call was placed to Brother's cell phone in Ohio around 4 pm on the day of the murder from the Harper residence.

The Defense:

The defense claimed that the extra marital affairs did not a murderer make and were being used to discredit his character. They claim that cell phone records placed Brother's in Ohio at the time of the murders and that he had also been involved in a minor traffic accident when a boy on a bike darted out in the street and ran into Brother's car. Also there was no video evidence of Brother's in over 100 gas stations and mini marts between Ohio and California. The murder weapon was never found. Brother's took the stand in his on defense and claimed that he had also spent time driving around with his other brother, Troy, which was why Melvin did not know where he was from the 4th through the 7th.

Troy Brother's was subpoenaed to testify for the defense but he disappeared. A $100,000 arrest warrant was issued. Columbus police tracked down the man who was actually involved in the traffic accident with the boy on the bike and he testified in court.

On May 15, 2007, the jury found Vincent E. Brothers guilty of five counts of first-degree murder and on September 27, 2007 he was sentenced to death.

During the sentencing hearing the family members were allowed to read statements, including an emotion packed statement delivered by his only surviving child, Margaret Kern-Brothers. She said that she was resigning from the Brother's family and after she walked out of the courtroom she would be known as Margaret Kern. She went on to state "I am leaving my name with him. I don't have a father now. He is just a man handcuffed to a chair, looking straight ahead. He will never see me again, until it's time to die.



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