Police Capture FBI Most Wanted Marine Deserter After Almost 3-Week Manhunt
Hardy, VA – A 22-year-old marine deserter wanted for the murder of his mother’s boyfriend was captured in Franklin County on Wednesday morning.
The Marine Corps Times reported that U.S. Marine Corporal Michael Alexander Brown did not report for duty at 8th Engineer Support Battalion at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Oct. 24.
The manhunt for Brown began after police responded to a call about a shooting in Hardy on Nov. 9 and found 54-year-old Rodney Brown dead inside his home, CNN reported.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Captain Phillip Young said his body was initially found by his girlfriend, who is Cpl. Brown’s mother.
She told police that her son shot her boyfriend and then fled, according to the Marine Corps Times.
The more-than-two-week-long manhunt caused schools to be shut down in the Roanoke area as authorities chased leads of reported sightings of the suspect, CNN reported.
The public was warned that Cpl. Brown, who was known to frequent national parks and forests, was believed to be in possession of a high-powered rifle.
The U.S. Marshals Service offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
Cpl. Brown was also placed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted list, KVVU reported.
The U.S. Marshals Service announced on Nov. 27 that the fugitive marine had been taken into custody that morning without incident, CBS News reported.
U.S. Marshal Brad Sellers told reporters at a press conference late Wednesday morning that investigators had received information that “had us refocus on Hardy, Virginia residents.”
Marshal Sellers did not reveal many details of the apprehensions but said that Cpl. Brown was sitting inside a home when the authorities arrived to take him into custody, and that nobody else was present at the residence.
He also said that nobody was injured in the process of making the arrest.
“It’s been a long investigation as the sheriff noted,” Marshal Sellers said. “According to what we’ve been keeping track of, the Marshals Service documents probably 340-plus investigative actions that have been taken over this almost three-week period. It’s been an extensive manhunt with numerous man hours dedicated to the pursuit of this.”
The marshal said that the success of the manhunt “highlights cooperative efforts” the region.
Cpl. Brown, a combat engineer for the U.S. Marine Corps, was initially considered an unauthorized absence but that status was changed to “marine deserter” after he was identified as a suspect in a murder, the Marine Corps Times reported.
He was seen driving an RV and towing a black Lincoln Town Car shortly after Rodney Brown was murdered, and then authorities found the car abandoned in South Carolina, leading investigators to move the search farther south.
But then police received a tip that Michael Brown showed up back in Virginia, tapping on his grandmother’s window, on Nov. 13, prompting wide-spread panic and lockdowns in the community, according to the Marine Corps Times.
Law enforcement found the corporal’s RV in the Roanoke area and, because Michael Brown had received training in explosives as a combat engineer, they destroyed the camper in a search for explosives.
Before he was captured, Michael Brown’s mother and grandmother hired a defense attorney to represent him, and then made a public plea for the young man to turn himself in to authorities, the Marine Corps Times reported.
Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton reminded reporters that “we still have an active homicide investigation that we are working” and said investigators were still interviewing Michael Brown.