By Tamara Hagethorn
Reprinted with permission from Celebrity Now! Magazine.
When Brienne Cross broke off her engagement with professional bull rider Cody Tiller, he became despondent and, according to at least one person who knew him, suicidal. People close to him are convinced that this depression led to his death under the hooves of the bucking bull, Barnbuster. “He was in a terrible state of mind,” his sister Neela Griffin told “Celebrity Now! Magazine.” “You had to see him, how much he changed. The heart went straight out of him.” Cody had always been “happy-go-lucky” and “kind of a jokester,” but all that changed when Brienne Cross called off the wedding only two months away. “He was devastated,” said his mother, Kathy Tiller.
Cody’s older brother, Rory, was in Afghanistan at the time. “He was very upset,” Neela said. “But I know my brother. He would never do anything to hurt Brienne Cross. He’d know Cody wouldn’t have wanted him to.”
Some friends of the couple think otherwise. Tiller spent two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, surviving a harrowing firefight that left everyone else in his squad dead. “It changed him,” said his best friend, who also fought in Afghanistan. “He wasn’t the same person. He was angry. He put his wife in the hospital and she’s scared to death of him now.”
Rory Tiller always took care of his little brother, friends say. And when he learned about Cody’s death, he became livid. “He was looking to blame someone. I think he blamed Brienne,” said a friend close to the family.
Rory Tiller was honorably discharged in January, 2009. Following his divorce, he sold everything he owned and decided to “see the country.” Nobody knew where he went.
“He had a big hole inside he needed to fill. He kept one thing, his ’09 Dodge Ram, and just took off.”
Some think he landed in Aspen in the summer of 2009.
It’s no secret that Brienne Cross was receiving menacing letters in the form of hard-to-trace emails from someone calling himself “The Great Leveler.” Her manager, Jay Lysle, was increasingly disturbed by the emails, which showed a pattern of escalation. “It was more than anger. These posts were … graphic.”
The long, rambling emails, sent over a two-month period, ended with the words, “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.”
While in Iraq, Rory Tiller turned to religion. “He was always talking about God. But it wasn’t God loves you. It was more like God’s anger and God’s willingness to smite his foes,” said Tiller’s closest boyhood friend. “He wasn’t the same guy I knew at all.”
We may never know if Rory Tiller threatened Brienne Cross. But the execution-style murders point to someone with a military background—an efficient killer.
And Rory Tiller certainly fit that description.
THE SHOP is a work of fiction, a political crime thriller by J. Carson Black.
People, places, and events portrayed on whokilledbriennecross.com
and associated Web sites are drawn from THE SHOP.
Filed Under: In the News