His parents were in agony. Corey Brown, 13, had been missing for five days in Marshalltown, Iowa. For most of that time, the region was experiencing extreme wintry conditions with blinding snow and temperatures in the single digits.
Brown ran away after his parents took away his phone. For five days the community searched and his parents pleaded and prayed for his safe return.
Sunday, the eighth-grader was found dead.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. After a ‘Disciplinary Discussion,’ Where His Parents Seized His Phone, Brown Took Off. It Was After 11 P.M. & in the Middle of a Blinding Snowstorm & Temps Around 15 Degrees
It was the night of Tuesday, Jan. 22 when Brown left his home in Marshalltown. Police said he and his parents had a “disciplinary discussion.” As a result, his parents took the boy’s phone as part of his punishment, Police Chief Michael Tupper said in a press briefing.
Brown, a 5-foot, 98 pound boy, was last seen in a neighborhood called Jackie Terrace at 11:15 p.m. Surveillance video showed Brown wearing a “red shirt, black pants, grey tennis shoes with a lime green Nike logo, a black and lime green coat and a Seattle Seahawks stocking cap.”
“We are making the following public request for assistance. We ask all property owners in Marshalltown (private and commercial) to thoroughly check all properties homes, building, garages, sheds, vehicles, etc. for Brown,” police wrote.
Reports show temperatures hovered in the teens and a winter weather advisory had been issued for the snowstorm blanketing the community. There was no school the next day, Wednesday Jan. 23 due to the extreme weather.
Parents Michelle and Craig Brown begged for their son’s return.
Michelle Brown spoke to her son directly in a press conference.
“Corey if you are out there please come home. You know how much we love you and I’m not going to stop until we find you. If you are out there, come home. We love you more than you’ll ever know.”
Posters of the boy were omnipresent on storefront windows. Police had to tell the community that was turning out in droves to help search to please stay at home. Churches opened their doors. And as was reported, the community was initially on edge until it later became clear the boy ran off.
A cruel irony was that the boy could not be tracked, his mother said, because he did not have his phone.
2. On Sunday Morning, the Search Had Ended & the Marshalltown Police Department Posted a Pained Update on the Miller Middle School Boy
The Marshalltown Police Department took to Facebook to update the community that had been searching for Brown for five days that the boy’s body was found by searchers.
“The Marshalltown Police Department regretfully reports Corey Brown, age 13, was found deceased today. His body was located this morning at approximately 10:45 a.m. in a secluded area on the west side of Marshalltown.”
Police said there was no evidence of “criminal activity” and the boy likely died from exposure. It’s still an active investigation.
Miller Middle School students left notes on locker 147, the Times Republican reported.
Michelle Brown’s agony can be felt in this prayer she posted.
The boy’s favorite color was green and so green ribbons, balloons, hearts and lights had covered the community.
Three days into the search, Brown posted this: “Let’s “light the way” for Corey to return home safely by putting his favorite color green light bulbs outside showing him that he is loved & being prayed for a safe return back home! Thank you everyone for your continued love, prayers, search efforts & support. We feel it! Let’s bring him home! ??????”
3. Brown’s Family Had Pleaded For His Safe Return & After, For Privacy to Cope With the Boy’s Death
Police declined to hold a press conference after Brown’s body was found and said there would be no other public information.
“A press conference is not being planned at this time. No other public information is available for release. When additional details are available, we will send them immediately. The Brown family requests everyone honor and respect their privacy,” a Facebook post reads. “The family is not accepting requests for interviews and do not wish to make a public statement at this time.”
And, as residents were trying to process what happened, Marshalltown Police Chief Michael Tupper told local media “I think people here are looking for reasons, looking for blame.”
“There’s no blame to be found here.”
Dad Craig Brown is a Navy vet and an electrician.
4. Police Chief Tupper Wrote a Column About the Tragedy Saying There’s No One to Blame
“This past week our community was dealt yet another horrific blow. Corey Brown was a good kid from a great family. This tragedy will forever alter the Brown family and in many ways our community. All of us who call Marshalltown home are hurting. If you are a parent, the senselessness of this event is heartbreaking. Why do things like this happen?
“I have witnessed more tragedy than I care to remember or discuss over the course of 26 years working in the law enforcement profession. I have witnessed and investigated unspeakable horrors. I have held the hand of far too many parents as they mourn the loss of a child. Any senseless or unexpected loss of life is difficult to deal with but when a child dies, it hurts in ways that for me are indescribable. When tragedy strikes, we want answers. We want accountability. There must be someone or something to blame. We speculate. We theorize. We pontificate about our own experiences. We convince ourselves we would have done something different to prevent tragedy had it been us in the shoes of those dealt the horrible blow. Maybe this is how we cope. Maybe this is how we try to convince ourselves such horrible things will never happen to us. We know better after all and someone must have done something wrong to cause this.”
“I am sorry to say sometimes tragedy just happens. It sucks. It hurts. Sometimes there are no explanations, no answers, nobody to blame. It is the harsh reality of life. I hate it. It breaks my heart. Tragedy can, does and will affect all of us at some point in our life. None of us are immune. How will you want people to treat you? Will you hope for a compassionate response?”
“I have been disappointed in the national media coverage of this recent tragedy. They have sensationalized, and inaccurately reported, irrelevant details in an effort to hint someone must be to blame. Some keyboard warriors on social media have done the same. They all have lacked basic human decency as they push out their theories and speculation. It must stop. This is wrong. The Brown family deserves, and needs our support, our love. They deserve compassion. There is nobody to blame here, folks. Corey Brown did nothing wrong. The Brown family did nothing wrong. They were the victims of unfortunate circumstances that could have just as easily visited our own families. Tragedy sometimes just happens. All you can do is support one another. As community members, we must rise up to support the unfortunate souls touched by tragic events.”
“The Marshalltown community is a proud and loving community. We all stand with the Browns. We will support them as friends and neighbors as they would support us under similar circumstances. God bless Corey Brown! Please pray for the Brown family.”
5. A Massive Corps of Law Enforcement, Search & Rescue, EMTs, Local Churches, & the Community at Large Was Involved in the 5-Day Search
Police said the Brown family “wishes to thank the Marshalltown/Marshall County community for all of their support during this difficult time. The family also thanks the public safety personnel, and volunteers, who worked diligently during the search for Corey.”
The Marshalltown Police were helped by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, Marshalltown Fire Department, Iowa State Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marshalltown Public Works, Marshall County 911, Marshall County Crime Stoppers, Marshall County Emergency Management, Marshall County CERT, Star 1 Search & Rescue, Story County Emergency Management, Story County Sheriff’s Office, Marion County Sheriff’s Office and countless area fire and EMS departments.
“The police department sincerely appreciates the innumerable hours put in by all of these partners during the search for Corey. These agencies all provided exceptionally professional service under very difficult conditions,” the department wrote on Facebook.
But its greatest thanks was for the community at large, including “Our Savior Lutheran Church (which) allowed public safety to operate out of their church for three days.”
“We sincerely appreciate their generous hospitality. Countless other groups, organizations and individuals provided logistical, and resource support. Thank you! The community has rallied behind the Brown family and all of public safety. The community support has been nothing short of phenomenal. Thank you everyone.”