On November 26, 2021, at approximately 11:54 PM, the Auburndale Police Department responded to a call at the intersection of Lime Street and Charles Avenue regarding a person lying in the roadway. Upon arrival officers located the victim, 18 year-old Zachary Jorden-Lee Brown, unresponsive with two stab wounds.
The suspect, 14-year-old Jerome Zacarez, who resides in close proximity to where the incident occurred, ran home to phone for medical
assistance for the victim. The suspect returned to the scene and was still on scene when officers arrived. The suspect was taken into custody.
The victim was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center and was pronounced deceased shortly after arrival. The incident is still
an active and ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Chris Wall at (863) 965-5555 or if you have information and would like to remain anonymous call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS(8477).
Excerpt of the arrest affidavit:
“On November 26, 2021, a reported cutting occurred at the intersection of Lime Street/Charles Avenue at approximately 2352 hours. At approximately 2358 hours Auburndale Police Officers arrived at the location and located two individuals later identified as Zachary Brown (victim) and Jerome Zacarez (suspect) at the reported incident location. Brown was located in the street and appeared to be severely injured with a significant amount of blood loss where he was later treated by Polk County Fire Rescue and transported to Lakeland Regional Health for treatment. Brown and Zacarez have been in a dating style relationship for approximately nine months at the time of the incident and had previously arranged to meet near Zacarez’ house which was common for the two. Brown brought alcohol for the two of them and they both drank at least approximately one shot of Fireball (whiskey) while they were together. During that time Zacarez stated that they got into an argument about something he could not remember, and during the argument Brown closed Zacarez’ finger in the door toBrown’s vehicle that they were outside of. Zacarez stated that he got mad because of that and wanted to get his things and go home for the evening. Zacarez stated that he did go back to his house to treat his finger which he stated was bleeding. Once Zacarez treated the injury to his finger with a band-aid and some ice he collected a kitchen knife from a cabinet in the kitchen and returned to where Brown was still located in the area of his vehicle. Zacarez stated that he did not have the knife to where Brown could see it and confronted him about the argument that occurred approximately 10 minutes earlier. Zacarez stated he did not remember exactly whathappened other than he stabbed Brown in the arm, and maybe his chest. Zacarez stated that he panicked, and that Brown told him to call 9-1-1. Zacarez ran back to his house barefoot as indicated by the trail of bloody footprints leading from the location where Brown was bleeding to the back door of Zacarez’ residence at 319Pine Street, Auburndale, FL. Zacarez entered the residence for the second time and called 9-1-1 to request medical assistance for Brown. Prior to exiting the residence Zacarez also grabbed a standard bathroom type towel from the bathroom and brought it to where Brown was lying in the street. Zacarez stated that heattempted to render aid and stop the bleeding, and he stayed there until law enforcement arrived. Zacarez was taken into custody approximately eight minutes after the initial 9-1-1 call. At that time Zacarez’ clothes andparts of his body were covered in apparent blood and made several spontaneous statements indicating that he stabbed Brown. Zacarez stated that at no time was anyone else involved, and that he and Brown were the only individuals present at the time the incident occurred. Brown was later found to have a laceration to both the arm, and the upper chest area, that were consistent with being stabbed by a knife. Zacarez described the knife as a kitchen knife with a black handle that he later put in Brown’s truck after stabbing both Brown, and the tire of Brown’s vehicle. A black handle kitchen knife was also located in plain view in the front passenger seat of Brown’s vehicle. Brown was later declared deceased by the hospital staff at 0044 hours on November 27, 2021, as a result of the injuries sustained from the stabbing. Zacarez also later provided a post-Miranda recorded statement outlining the incident at 0222 hours. At this time there is no articulable reason to believe that any other parties were involved in the incident. On November 26, 2021, Zacarez unlawfully struck Brown with a knife against his will causing serious injuries that later resulted in Brown’s death. Due to the totality of the circumstances regarding this case, we would ask the Honorable Court to grant the issuance of this warrant in reference to FSS 782.04(2) related to the murder of Brown. In order to seize and secure any potential items of evidence, photographs, clothing, weapons, or other miscellaneous items of evidentiary value.“