In the episode titled ‘Mother’s Intuition’ of the sixth season of ‘Murder in the Heartland,’ the gripping yet tragic tale of Brandi Mathews’ disappearance takes center stage, following which only her mother pushes to search for her. When the authorities found some key pieces of evidence a couple of years later, the focus shifted to delving into the details surrounding her disappearance as it was deemed to be a murder case. Looking over her acquaintances and relationships, the authorities had a complicated investigation in their hands.
How Did Brandi Mathews Die?
Born on November 1, 1983, in Columbia, Missouri, Brandi June “Callahan” Mathews seemingly grew up in a loving home with her parents — Mark and Deanna Callahan. She spent most of her formative years in Camdenton, Missouri, before moving to Lincoln, Arkansas, to finish high school. After completing her high school, she attended State Fair Community College in Osage Beach, Missouri. Besides being a studious individual, she was also quite religious as she attended the Church of Christ in Camdenton, Missouri, and got baptized at the First Baptist Church in Stover, Missouri.
Brandi also got pregnant quite young and gave birth to a son. In order to support him and her higher education, she worked at an Osage Beach club as an erotic dancer under the name “Faith” while residing in the Barnett area. However, she couldn’t realize her bright future as soon everything turned upside down when she disappeared in September 2006. Suspecting foul play, her mother was the only person who pushed the investigation forward and was determined to get to the bottom of it all.
A couple of years later, Brandi’s mother’s intuition turned out to be true. In January 2009, her skeletal remains were discovered by some hikers under a bridge in rural Miller County. The investigators then used dental records to confirm the identity of the human skull, which matched Brandi. They also found out that her neck was broken by the perpetrator, which was seemingly the cause of her demise. Following this discovery, the authorities wasted no time and began the interrogation process, focusing on the suspects.
Who Killed Brandi Mathews?
After questioning and interrogating the victim’s acquaintances, friends, and family, the authorities focused on Brandi’s former boyfriend Kelly Simino, who was coincidentally arrested on the same day her body was found. One of the witnesses, Tony Bradford, expressed his suspicions about the 41-year-old and was almost convinced that he was the culprit. Reports suggest that Kelly and Brandi were involved in an abusive and toxic relationship, and only a month before disappearing, the latter had filed a restraining order as she was afraid that he would kill her.
Soon after Brandi’s remains were found in 2009, her mother, Deanna Roberts, spoke to the Lake Sun about the fact that her daughter was aware that she was in a dangerous situation and was trying to save some money in order to take the courageous step and leave her then-boyfriend, Kelly. She explained, “It had swallowed her up and she didn’t know how to get out. That’s how she described it. It swallowed her up. Brandi was a smart girl, she loved her son, she loved to laugh, loved fishing and poetry and she had this smirky little smile, but she didn’t always make good decisions or use her common sense. She got caught up in something that she couldn’t get out of.”
When Deanna found out that her daughter was still seeing Kelly, she immediately refused to let him take custody of the child. Shortly after this, Brandi just seemed to disappear from her and everyone else’s lives. According to reports, a couple of witnesses came forward and alleged that the suspect admitted to murdering Brandi by choking or breaking her neck, strengthening the investigators’ case against Kelly even more.
Furthermore, there was another significant witness who claimed to have seen a male and a female fighting in the autumn of 2006, around the same area where Brandi’s remains were discovered. Another one said that Kelly wished he could kill his girlfriend and somehow get away with it. Compiling all these allegations and statements from witnesses, Kelly Simino, who was already in prison at the time, was scheduled to stand trial for the murder of Brandi Mathews.
Where is Kelly Simino Now?
Waiving his rights to a preliminary hearing, Kelly Simino’s trial began in April 2011. It was reported that Brandi had filed for at least six domestic assault incidents against Kelly in 2006, before her disappearance. After several days of hearing and testimony in the courtroom, in November 2011, the jury returned with a guilty verdict for Kelly, who was convicted of the second-degree murder of his former girlfriend, Brandi Mathews. The perpetrator was even labeled as a danger to society by the prosecutors during the trial.
Better late than never, justice was served for Brandi, her mother, her brother, and her young son, as her family members were the driving force in pushing the authorities and making them believe that Brandi was the victim of foul play. Then, in January 2012, the culprit was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which are to be served consecutively after his other existing sentences. The Eldon man appealed for a new trial, arguing he was not granted a speedy one, only in vain, as the court ruled it out. Moreover, in order to be eligible for parole, he must serve at least 85% of his sentence. Currently, Kelly is serving his sentence at the Jefferson City Correctional Center at 8200 No More Victims Road in Jefferson City.