There have been a lot of quiet mornings in the former home of Brandy L. Carroll since May 9.
No longer being awakened by Carroll’s singing and dancing, her roommates Mathew Somers and Carissa Johnson deal with her absence every day.
“I would get mad when she would wake me up in the morning singing,” said Somers, 20, who held back tears as he described himself as Carroll’s best friend. “ I miss coming down here and getting mad. I couldn’t stay mad at her. She’d say ‘Mat, it’s the morning and I’m dancing.’”
Carroll’s life was taken May 9, after she met Andre D. Robinson, who is charged with first degree intentional homicide in Carroll’s death. Robinson, 38, and Carroll, 19, met on Backpage.com, an advertising site, according to the criminal complaint filed in Rock County Circuit Court.
The two agreed to meet and exchange money for sex.
Somers, Johnson and Carroll had known each other since they were 13, but didn’t become close until four years later. The three of them became members of the “pinkies,” a nickname they called their group of friends.
“We did the fun stuff that everyone does when they’re young,” Somers said. “Her spirit was so free, that’s all she wanted to be.”
Somers and Johnson said Brandy was always trying to motivate them to get better jobs and work on self-improvement. Taking her own advice, Carroll, 19, was finishing her GED at Blackhawk Technical College and was set to finish in June, according to her obituary.
“She was very determined,” said Lois Swanson, who co-taught Basic Skills classes at the college with Tammy Berberich.
In her initial interview, Swanson said Carroll wrote that she “was excited to graduate and start her adult life.”
Johnson said she and Brandy butted heads a lot, but there was still love there.
“She would help people with everything. She would buy us food if we needed it.” said Johnson. “She was a happy person and an adventurous person.”
Though she remained positive, her friends say Carroll was very reserved and yearned to be accepted by others. She struggled to forge relationships with co-workers and was riddled with insecurities.
“She tried so hard to try and get other people to understand her,” Somers said. “She wanted people to see her as real.”
But Carroll appreciated the little things, like “thank you” or asking “how was your day?”
Somers said it was common knowledge in their home that Carroll sometimes met men through the Internet to exchange sexual favors for cash, seeking additional income. Carroll had a job working at a local fast food restaurant, but needed more money than she was earning.
“She started when she was 18, then she stopped for a while,” Somers said. “When she did it, it was to have that extra cash on her.”
The group tried to keep Carroll safe since she usually brought the men home. Sometimes the roommates would hide in the bathroom or living room just in case something went wrong.
Somers said he remembers the night Carroll left with Robinson, describing it as “weird.”
“When (Robinson) pulled up, he pulled up diagonally to our house and honked his horn. Then he pulled up in front of our house and honked again,” Somers said.
Somers said Carroll was inside on the phone.
“I kept asking her, ‘who is he?’” Somers recalled.
Somers said Carroll identified Robinson as a mutual friend, then later sent Somers a text once inside the car saying “it was business.”
Somers said 12:40 a.m. was the last message he received from Brandy, saying she was coming home.
Carroll’s absence has prompted the rebuilding of friendships, Somers said.
“She would have wanted us to be together,” said Somers of the “pinkies.”