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Arrest warrant: Alleged threat to release nude photos may have led to 2015 Gregg County murder

Jessie Clifford Brown (Source: Gregg County Judicial) Jessie Clifford Brown (Source: Gregg County Judicial)
John Allen Franco (Source: Family) John Allen Franco (Source: Family)
GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

The man charged in the murder of John Allen Franco may have killed him over a threat to reveal nude photos of his stepdaughter, according to police records.

An arrest warrant obtained Thursday by KLTV details the incidents that occurred before the death of John Allen Franco.

Franco was found dead May 20, 2015, in a vehicle in the Liberty City area. On Oct. 19, Jessie Clifford Brown, 35, was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the case.

Investigators discovered a single gunshot wound to the upper left side of Franco’s head, and glass from the broken window had cut his face, according to the warrant.

A witness riding with Franco told police investigators that she and Franco were driving along Old Highway 135 about 10:15 p.m. on May 20, 2015, when she noticed a truck pass them at a high rate of speed.  A short time later, Franco turned onto Smallwood Road. The witness told police she saw the truck that had passed them sitting on the side of the road with its lights off.

Three males got out of the truck and approached Franco’s vehicle, she said, but re-entered their vehicle when Franco began driving away backward.

Franco stopped their vehicle just short of the intersection of Smallwood Road and Highway 135, and the witness told police that’s when one of the males got out of the truck and approached Franco at their driver’s side door, holding what she believed was a handgun.

“[The witness] told me she was uncertain about what occurred, but that she believed Franco reversed his vehicle really fast and that something caused the driver’s side window to break. She said the truck continued in reverse and crashed into the ditch on Smallwood Road,” said Gregg County Criminal Investigator Roy Nixon in the arrest warrant.

A witness told the investigator that Brown wanted to assault Franco because Franco had threatened to show nude photos of his stepdaughter, who the documents allege Franco formerly had a relationship with.

No spent shell casings were found in a search of that area by law enforcement, leading Nixon to write that he believed a revolver was used to shoot Franco.

According to the warrant, a person who lived near where Franco’s truck was found told police that around 9 p.m. the evening of the murder, an unknown man driving, “a dark-colored GMC or Chevrolet” had come to his home and asked if “Allen” lived there. The man told police that he pointed the unknown person to cabins on Smallwood Road, and the person left.

 “No further leads developed until August 15, 2017,” the warrant states, despite interviews with numerous people.

Then, on Aug. 15, 2017, an individual who remains unnamed throughout the affidavit contacted Investigator Nixon.

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