Some call it the AMC murder. Some call it the armored car murder.
Either way, five years later police are still searching for the man who in 2004 executed an armored car courier as he walked out of the AMC Ahwatukee 24 Theatres with a bag containing that weekend’s receipts.
Last year, the FBI in Utah thought they had a break in the search for the suspect, 39-year-old Jason Derek Brown. But like all the leads in the case, it didn’t pan out.
Brown, who is from Utah and speaks fluent French, was suspected of being in Canada or Europe in the months after the shooting.
“We receive leads on a regular basis,” said FBI special agent Manuel Johnson. “To date, there have been look-a-like sightings from around the country and internationally. We are confident that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will bring Jason Derek Brown to justice.”
The cold-blooded murder of the armored car courier left police and witnesses shocked at the brutality and pushed Brown onto the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.
Investigators say that as 24-year-old armored car courier Robert Palomares walked out of the theater around 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 29, 2004, Brown rode up on a bicycle, pulled a gun, and shot the courier multiple times in the head.
Astonished witnesses told police that Brown then grabbed the bag containing about $56,000 and fled on the bicycle, which police later found abandoned. But by then Brown had transferred to his BMW, checked out of a long-term stay hotel at 50th Street and Chandler Boulevard, and fled.
Brown, who came to Ahwatukee Foothills from Salt Lake City, knew the area, having lived here for six months, renting a home in the 3900 block of Nighthawk Way, where neighbors described him as a high-roller with plenty of “boy toys,” from large-screen televisions to boats and cars.
But according to the FBI, the realty was far different. Brown was heavily in debt and broke at the time of the murder.
A Maricopa grand jury quickly indicted him for first-degree murder, but Brown’s trail went cold after his car was found in Oregon a month after the murder.
America’s Most Wanted filmed a reenactment of the murder, but despite airing on the popular television show, there have been no solid leads.
Brown, who is described as having a resemblance to actor Sean Penn, acts just like he looks in his driver’s license photo, say neighbors who knew him.
“He was like a kid, he was friendly and young,” said Jon Pike, who lived down the street from Brown when he was renting in Ahwatukee Foothills.
The FBI is hoping that someone will recognize him and call the authorities.
But he also warned that Brown is a dangerous murderer and should not be approached.