COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A suspect accused of fatally stabbing an elderly woman was implicated in the crime almost immediately after getting out of jail for a separate offense, according to the Columbus Division of Police.
Columbus Division of Police Chief Elaine Bryant and other division officials shared the new details of the deadly stabbing during a 10 a.m. press conference at its headquarters Friday. Investigators had found Emily Foster dead in her home in the 2000 block of Iuka Avenue, located in the University District near Ohio State University, six days earlier.
The close-knit community on Iuka Avenue was left rattled after their friend, Foster, was found.
“My wife was the most affected because she actually saw Emily on the floor,” said Ron Murphy, who described Foster as brave, and a friend to everyone. She knew everything going on in town, he said.
CPD said during the press conference the suspect in the case had since been found in Georgia, and was recovering in a hospital there.
Previously identified as Michael Brooks II, 28, he had been shot by a homeowner during an alleged unrelated burglary in the state. As of Thursday, authorities were waiting to take him into custody on a charge of murder once he was released from medical care.
Investigators used nearby security camera photos to confirm Brooks was in the area of the stabbing. They then noticed a key detail related to his outfit changing in later photos.
“We found a picture from prior to, with our suspect walking into the area wearing sweatpants,” said Smith Weir, deputy chief for CPD. “Those sweatpants matched sweatpants we found near the crime scene, and we were able to forensically put him at the location of the crime scene.”
The neighborhood had been waiting for the news that Foster’s alleged killer was in custody, Murphy said.
“Definitely relief, yeah. I spoke to the police officers many times before, and just saying that, ‘I hope he’ll be found soon,'” Murphy said.
Brooks had just been released from the Franklin County Jail the evening before the stabbing, according to Weir. He was being held in connection with a 2022 case stemming from a violation of a protection order.
An affidavit indicated that on Sept. 10, 2022, Brooks had driven a black pickup truck to a woman’s home, and then entered through the garage. Inside, he began yelling at her and then left. He drove back to the residence again after Columbus police had shown up, who then tried to stop him.
Brooks kept driving as a CPD cruiser with lights and sirens on followed him. The officers briefly lost him, and when they found him again he crashed into another police cruiser, according to the affidavit. Brooks drove further before stopping and getting out of the truck, and officers arrested him.
Franklin County Common Pleas Court records showed Brooks had originally pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of failure to comply with a police order as a result of that case. He changed his plea to guilty on Sept. 5, 2023.
“He … was subsequently released pending his sentencing,” Weir said.
When asked about a motive, Columbus police said they believed the stabbing was a random attack. The victim, Foster, was well-known in the University District and wrote for Columbus Monthly Magazine alongside working in university relations at Ohio State University. Her husband, Lee Brown, taught philosophy at OSU until 2002, and died in 2014.
As Columbus police gather more evidence in the stabbing investigation, they asked anyone with photos or videos of the suspect to submit them by scanning the QR code below.