Police identify 'person of interest' in Brandi Mathews case

Kelly Simino's mug shot from Jan. 28 2008.

New information has surfaced in the investigation surrounding Brandi Mathews, the woman whose remains were discovered earlier this month under a bridge in Eldon.

Miller County authorities say Brandi's boyfriend, at the time of her disappearance, is now considered to be "a person of interest" in her death investigation.

Her ex-boyfriend, Kelly Simino, now 41, is currently in the Miller County Jail, held without bond. He's been there since Thursday when he was picked up on an outstanding probation and parole warrant. Ironically, the arrest came on the same day Brandi's remains were identified - a coincidence not lost on those who knew her well.

'Absolutely no doubt'

"There's absolutely no doubt on my mind that he killed her," said Brandi's former boss, Tony Bradford, referring to Brandi's boyfriend, Kelly Simino.

Bradford owns "Flirt," a strip club in Osage Beach. "This was her area here," he said giving a tour of the dimly lit dressing area. "This was her spot."

Bradford says he knew Brandi well, from the year-and-half she spent dancing there. Most people who visited the club knew Brandi only by her stage name, "Faith." It was a job she took to help support her 18-month-old son.

"This is not about a stalker," Bradford said. "This is not about the business of entertaining. This is not about Faith being on drugs. This is about her being in a relationship that cost her her life."

Bradford says Brandi's boyfriend, Simino, liked that she was an exotic dancer - but was very jealous, abusive and controlling.

"She was in the back crying one day and we discussed what was going on," he said. "She had a certain amount of fear for her ex and talked about getting a restraining order."

Restraining order filed a month before she went missing

In fact, Brandi did file for a restraining order against Simino on Aug. 16, 2006 - one month before she went missing. Her handwriting on the court document, now haunting to look at, tells the story of her fear.

"I was in an abusive relationship," she wrote. "I set him up with the police, he's on a 24-hour hold. When he's released he will come after me."

"He padlocked me in the house because I was trying to leave," she said, describing her situation in December 2005. "He head-butted me and gave me a concussion."

And, in what was, perhaps, her most chilling comment, she described an incident from April 2006, when she tried to flee to South Carolina - and he found her.

"He tried to kidnap me and threatened to kill me," she wrote. "If it hadn't been for the lady at the desk I probably would have been dead." It's not clear who she was talking about.

Bradford says he banned Simino from coming to his club, and in the month's before Brandi's disappearance, tried to get her to break up with him.

Brandi was 22 when she went missing two years ago, in September 2006. Her remains were found by a dog-walker, half buried, next to a creek on Jan. 3.

'Saddened but not shocked'

"I was not shocked when I heard that they found her body," Bradford said. "I was saddened but I was not shocked."

As a result of our report, Miller County authorities plan to interview Bradford about what he knows. Investigators say sometime next week they also plan to return to the creek in Eldon where Brandi's remains were found, hoping to find more evidence that will put this case to rest.

Medical examiners in Eldon are still examining Brandi's remains and will release them to her family at "a later date." As of Wednesday, they have not yet determined the cause of her death.

Kelly Simino has not been charged with anything connected to Brandi's death or her disappearance.