Jordan Brown, The Boy Who Shot & Killed His Pregnant Stepmom-To-Be When He Was Only 11

August 07, 2017
By: Catherine Townsend

WAMPUM, PA — On August 7, 1997, Jordan Brown was born in Pennsylvania.

Just over 11 years later, the young boy would make national headlines after he murdered the young, pregnant woman who was about to marry his father at her farm house in Wampum, Pennsylvania.

It was February 20, 2009, when young Jordan shot Kenzie Houk, 26, in the back of the head with a youth-model 20-gauge shotgun that was an Easter gift from his dad, Chris Brown. Houk was eight months pregnant, and her unborn son — who the couple had named Christopher A. Houk-Brown, Jr., — died as well.

Investigators at the time suspected that Jordan was jealous of the places that Houk's soon to be born baby would occupy in the household.

After the shooting, Jordan then allegedly boarded the school bus with the victim’s daughter.

Jordan was charged with murdering Houk, which led to a national debate about whether he should have been tried as a juvenile. Kids charged with murder in Pennsylvania are automatically considered adults, and only a judge's decision has the power to move the trial to juvenile court. A Pennsylvania judge first ruled that Brown should be tried as an adult.

But some experts, who argued that the brain of a child Jordan's age was incapable of understanding the long-term implications of his crime, spoke out against the ruling. His father, Chris Brown, seemed to agree. He said at the time, "To try to explain to a 12-year-old what the rest of your life means — it's incomprehensible for him. He doesn't appreciate the magnitude of what he's facing."

The human-rights organization Amnesty International opposed the effort to try Jordan as an adult, citing the mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole penalty as a violation of international law. And a petition signed by nearly 4,000 people protested what it described as the denial of Brown's fifth and sixth amendment rights.

But Houk's family — which includes mom Debbie and daughters Jenessa and Adalynn — insisted that even a life sentence could never make up for losing their loved one. While Brown described his son as happy, members of Houk's family described Jordan as "troubled."

In April 2012, Judge John Hodge adjudicated Jordan Brown to be delinquent — which is the juvenile version of "guilty" — for the first-degree murder of Houk and her unborn child. Jordan was originally placed in the Lawrence Country Jail, a facility for adults, and later transferred to a juvenile facility after attorneys argued that the adult jail couldn't accommodate an 11-year-old.

On June 13, 2016, Jordan Brown, who is now 19 years old, was released from juvenile custody, and is attending college. He will remain on juvenile court probation until he turns 21.

Main photo: Jordan Brown [Lawrence County Prison]

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