A St. Louis-area middle-school teacher accused of grooming and raping students was found dead in his jail cell last week.
Brandon Holbrook, 30, a substitute teacher, was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl multiple times and being held in the St. Louis County Jail when he was found unresponsive Monday. He was pronounced dead at Barnes-Jewish Hospital an hour later. There were no signs of trauma, officials said.
“A thorough investigation is in order,” Holbrook’s lawyer, Scott Rosenblum, told the Riverfront Times. “There’s no indication that this young man was suicidal. In fact, given the circumstances he was upbeat.”
Holbrook first met the 14-year-old girl at Bernard Middle School in Mehlville, according to authorities. Police said he groomed the alleged victim via social media, exchanging messages and pictures in May. He allegedly raped the girl at her home on three separate occasions, then threatened her to stay silent about it.
30-year-old Brandon Holbrook was found dead inside a St. Louis County Justice Center cell Monday afternoon, with his initial cause of death unknown. https://t.co/13ofsgGFM5
— WBRC FOX6 News (@WBRCnews) October 1, 2022
Holbrook was charged with three counts of statutory rape and six counts of statutory sodomy. Since Holbrook was arrested, two more girls have come forward with similar accusations, according to police.
An autopsy was being conducted, and there was speculation Holbrook may have died of a drug overdose. Jail officials administered Narcan to him after finding him in his cell.
Doug Moore, a spokesman for St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch there were no objects in the cell with which Holbrook could have injured himself, nor were there any signs of suicide.
Mehlville is an “inner-ring” suburb of St. Louis County with a population of about 28,000.
After Holbrook’s arrest, Mehlville school officials sent a letter to parents assuring them that the suspect had not worked in the district in the current school year, although he had taught at the district’s elementary, middle and high schools, as well as the pandemic virtual program, between February 2021 and May 2022.
“We are deeply troubled by any report alleging that an employee may have engaged in inappropriate behavior,” said the letter, which did not name Holbrook but said the suspect had undergone an extensive routine background check. “Our schools are places where students should always feel safe, and we take any allegation of staff misconduct very seriously.”