Karla Brada, 31, died September 1, 2011, in Saugus, California.
On that day, Karla’s then 40-year-old boyfriend of less than three months, and fiancée of one month, Eric Allen Earle, called 911 to report that she was unresponsive. Police found her with numerous injuries. Earle told police that Karla overdosed on drugs and alcohol and fell down the stairs. He was taken into custody on a felony murder charge but was released days later for further investigation. The investigation that followed revealed that Karla did not die of an overdose. She had been beaten and died of injuries caused by strangulation. In January 2012 Earle was re-arrested and charged with Karla’s murder.
Karla met Earle at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. She was attending the meetings voluntarily and was doing well. She was sober, had a good job, and had recently bought a condo near her family. When Karla met Earle, she thought she had met the man of her dreams, but her family says there was a lot about Earle that Karla did not know.
Earle, who was attending AA under court order and had, in fact, been court-ordered to attend AA several times over the course of a long and violent criminal history as an alternative to jail, is described by his own father and others who know him as a man who used AA to prey on vulnerable women to support him. He had a history of violence against women, including against his wives in two previous marriages.
Karla’s sister, Sasha, says that because Karla had dated Earle such a short time that Karla and her family barely knew him and were unaware of Earle’s history. The family also did not know that Earle had been arrested for assaulting Karla just three weeks before her death. Neighbors say that sheriff’s deputies had been called to Karla’s home, which Earle had recently moved into, numerous times in the weeks prior to her death. The whirlwind relationship moved forward so fast that the family did not have the knowledge or the time to intervene and possibly save Karla’s life.
Karla’s family was also horrified to learn that mixing violent predators with regular citizens like Karla is a common occurrence in AA meetings. In 2012, they filed a civil suit against Alcoholics Anonymous of Santa Clarita and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, and several other defendants, contending that AA had a “reckless disregard for, and deliberate indifference…to the safety and security of victims attending AA meetings who are repeatedly preyed upon at those meetings by financial, violent, and sexual predators like Earle.”
During the five months he was free after Karla’s death, Earle became engaged to another woman he met at AA, who attended his pre-trial hearings to support him.
In September 2014, Eric Allen Earle was convicted of murder for the death of Karla Brada. He was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.
Karla’s story was featured on CBS’s 48 Hours: THE SOBER TRUTH.
Read a special report about Karla’s story: Twelve Steps to Danger: How Alcoholics Anonymous Can Be a Playground for Violence-Prone Members
Visit the family’s Facebook page, Karla’s Hope.