WHITE OAK, Texas (KETK) – A convicted East Texas sex offender is accused of killing a man because he had been caught stealing $35 from the victim.
39-year-old Brandon Gilliam had been on the run from the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office for 10 days before being captured last week. He had been the prime suspect in the murder of 66-year-old Steve McDowell on White Oak Road back on May 3.
An arrest warrant obtained by KETK News revealed that McDowell had hired Gilliam and his girlfriend Regina Massie to help repair his 1999 Chevrolet Pickup truck.
A few days before his death, McDowell allegedly told his neighbors that Gilliam and Massie had borrowed McDowell’s truck but they “had not returned the truck at the agreed upon time, and that money from McDowell was discovered missing…”
The neighbors saw Gilliam yell loudly into the house and then closed the door. Later, they noticed the door was still closed and that McDowell’s dogs were left outside in the rain.
The documents state that they went up to the front door and called McDowell’s name. When he didn’t answer, they went inside and found him dead on his bed. He had a head wound and there was a large amount of blood around it.
Gregg County Sheriff’s deputies were able to track down Massie and she agreed to come in for questioning. During her interview, she told investigators that McDowell confronted Gilliam about the theft.
In the documents, Massie said she heard McDowell scream “Oh, God no!” and that she heard several “pinging” sounds. Gilliam called her into the house and she saw him hit McDowell in the head with a foot-long pipe and then tried to suffocate him by covering his nose and mouth.
Massie told deputies that Gilliam did this until McDowell stopped moving. He tried to get Massie to help him with moving McDowell’s body, but she refused.
Gilliam allegedly went to cover up blood on the couch with a blanket and then moved the body on his own. He then cleaned up his own hands and tried to wipe his fingerprints off the faucet and door handles.
The warrant states that Gilliam directed Massie to take five guns and two large boxes of McDowell’s into the back of the pickup truck. They then left the scene in the back of McDowell’s truck.
He then went back to Massie’s home and changed clothes. Gilliam left again in the truck and Massie said he returned hours later without it. He threatened that he would harm her if she ever spoke about what happened.
Massie then told investigators Gilliam said that “McDowell should not have died over $35.”
Investigators were able to track down the truck on May 5 and found it “engulfed in flames.” The deputy writing the warrant stated that she believed the “vehicle was intentionally set on fire, or an explosion was caused, with the intent to destroy or damage this vehicle, and any evidence of the murder of McDowell.”
Gilliam registered as a sex offender after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 30-year-old Marshall woman, according to the DPS records.
He was required to re-register every year for the rest of his life and he was rated as a “moderate” risk level.
Court records show that Gilliam has three previous convictions in Gregg County. He pleaded guilty to burglary in 2002 and was sentenced to 15 months in prison, spent a year in prison for forging a financial document in 2004, and was booked for DWI in 2006 for which he served a 90-day jail sentence.