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Monday, October 18, 2021

One year on, no closure for family of American teacher murdered in Doha



With reporting from Riham Sheble

On Nov. 14, 2012, 40-year-old American teacher Jennifer Brown was violently killed in her home in Al Sadd. Now, more than a year later, as her murder trial languishes in court, family members said they are still waiting for closure.

Brown, a single woman from Pennsylvania, had moved to Doha only two months before her death to work at the English Modern School in Al Wakrah. She was allegedly attacked in her company-provided flat by a security guard from her building.

The guard, who is from Kenya, was arrested last year and has reportedly confessed to the crime. But his court case is proceeding slowly. Just last week, a lower court in Doha postponed the expat’s trial for a third time until next year, after key witnesses in the case did not show up.

This appeared to be because the hearing had been moved up a few days, and nobody was informed about the change.

‘Justice not swift’

Speaking to Doha News via phone from the US this week, Robert Brown said he was frustrated with the delays in his daughter’s case.

“I don’t know much about Qatari law, but what I do know is that justice is not too swift in that country. It’s a nightmare that we still do not have closure.”

What has made things particularly difficult is the way things were mishandled after the teacher’s death, the Brown family told their local publication Times News Online, which reports:

“The family even had to fight to get their daughter’s body returned to the states.

They received empty promises from the embassy, who said they would embalm Jenn and send her home. But the days ticked by and Jennifer remained a half a world away.

The condition that Jennifer returned home in, two weeks after her murder, still makes the family upset. ‘I felt terrible,’ (sister) Mary said through tears. ‘We didn’t even get to view her one last time because they didn’t embalm her. You should have seen the box they sent her home in.’

The US Embassy in Doha declined to comment on the case.

Looking forward

EMS Al Wakrah also declined to comment for this article. But a former EMS colleague and friend of Brown’s told Doha News that staff living in Brown’s building marked the one-year anniversary of her death with a small ceremony. She added:

“It is hard to believe that already a year has gone by since Jennifer’s horrific murder. She was an innocent, hard working and caring person,” said the colleague, who asked to remain anonymous. “I feel so sorry that she is gone, as she had so much of her life to live and was enjoying Doha. It is sad.”

Brown’s murder, like the death of British teacher Lauren Patterson last month, has sparked concerns about how safe single women are in Qatar.

The next murder trial hearing will be in January. But Robert Brown told Doha News that whatever happens won’t bring his daughter back.

“I don’t know what to say. When that knucklehead killed Jennifer, he didn’t just kill her – he killed Jennifer, my wife and myself.”

He added to TNOnline:

“Be good to your kids because you never know if you’re going to get that phone call,” Robert said. “I never thought it would happen to us.”



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