He Fulfilled His Need For Control By Victimizing Women

'70s' 'Pasadena Rapist' Serving 5 Life Terms

October 06, 1991|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

Donny Brown desperately wanted to be in control. Breaking into a home and terrorizing a woman gave him that sensation of power.

First he would scare her almost to death. Then he would rape her.

"I was in control then," he says. "I felt more like a man becauseI'm in control."

In October 1975, Brown was sentenced to five concurrent life terms for raping five women in the Pasadena area from May 1974 to January 1975. He also received a 20-year sentence for burglary and robbery.

Dubbed the "Pasadena rapist" by police and the media, Brown traces his troubles back to spring 1974, when he felt control over his life slipping away.

Arriving home one day from his job at a construction site, he found that his wife, a prostitute, had left him. They had had a terrible fight the night before and he had beaten her badly.

First he felt guilty. Soon he became furious.

For two weeks, Brown, then 23, barricaded himself in his Pasadena apartment. He had plenty of time on his hands to let his anger and hatredfester. He wanted that control back.

To satisfy the monster inside, Brown prowled the Pasadena area at night in search of his victims.

More than fifteen years later, he tells a frightening tale of violence with a straight face. In an even tone of voice that sometimes slips into street talk, Brown says his family never really wanted him.But that doesn't matter now.

"I take full responsibility for whatI have done," the 39-year-old says during an interview at the Maryland Correctional Institute in Jessup.

Brown recalls coming across his first victim by chance one night in May 1974, as he was "creeping around" the Pasadena area looking for a house to burglarize. Most of the houses were dark, but a light switching on in the window of one caught his eye.

"I went over to the window, and I saw her getting undressed," he said. "Her kids were in the living room, and I could see that her husband was home."

Brown watched for a while, storing the site in his memory for future use.

In the ensuing days he returned to the window about three times, watching the woman move about the house.

Then at about 5 one morning, Brown says, he was coming back from "making his rounds" when he saw the woman's husband get in a car and leave.

"I found a basement window that was open and I wentin," he recalls. "I caught her in the hallway carrying a cup of coffee to the bedroom."

Seeing the tall, fairly muscular man caused her to drop the coffee cup and fall against the wall.

"I tried to calm her down, and I told her I just wanted her money," he says.

"I saw how scared she was. She was shaking."

The woman told him that if he believed in God, he would not do this. "I said I believed in God and I didn't want to hear it."

Then he raped her.

As he was leaving the house, Brown ran into her little boy in the hallway. "I just looked at him, and he just looked at me," he remembers. "That little boy, that really got me. I only lived just a block away."

The little boy later helped police identify Brown.

Brown said he usually had little trouble controlling his victims.

"When they submittedto you, you felt good afterward. It's that power, that control. Theywill do anything if you don't hurt them. Most will say: 'Just don't hurt me.' "

After his attacks, Brown would go home and fall asleep. "I always felt relieved," he says. "It was like an outlet for me."

The rapist continued in pretty much the same manner until county police caught up with him in February 1975. His mistake came when he used his girlfriend's car to burglarize the home of a fortune teller near the corner of Ritchie Highway and Jumpers Hole Road. The car was traced to him. Police made the arrest a few days later.

After talking to detectives, Brown confessed.

"I told them about victims they didn't even know about," he says. "I felt relieved after that."

Intermingled with the tale of his crimes, Brown tells the story of his childhood -- of loneliness, delinquency, the abuse he saw his mother receive at the hands of his stepfather.

"My mother was a deaf-mute," he says. "She couldn't control me. I was in and out of training schools."

At 12, he was already angry at the world. Children in the neighborhood would tease him about his mother. "Why," he would ask himself, "couldn't my mother be like all the other mothers?"

He spent time at Waxter's Children's Institute in Laurel and Boys Village in Prince George's County, mostly for skipping school and running away.

His mother sent him to live with aunts in Pasadena. "I felt like they were keeping me for a favor," he says. "I had to baby-sit all the time for them and then I had to quit basketball."

He went fromthe house of one relative to another. At 14, the uncle with whom he had been living married and moved away. Brown stayed in the Pasadena apartment.

"I went to Severna Park High School in the mornings andworked at a hardware store in the afternoon," he recalls. "My people, I never felt like I was wanted."

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