Marine deserter wanted for murder arrested in Va.


ROANOKE, Va. (WAVY, AP, WFXR) — A Marine deserter wanted in the fatal shooting of his mother’s boyfriend was captured Wednesday after a weekslong, multi-state search that had schools and neighborhoods on high alert in Roanoke, Virginia.

Michael Alexander Brown, 22, was safely taken into custody Wednesday morning at his mother’s house in Franklin County, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Officials say he was taken into custody without incident. 

Brown is charged with second-degree murder in the Nov. 9 killing of a man described as his mother’s boyfriend. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has said a motive is unclear.

Franklin County Sheriff, Bill Overton, says the apprehension was thanks to a team effort.  

“This has been an intense manhunt over 18 days, covering three states and multiple surrounding jurisdictions. I am thankful this situation has come to a successful closure without no injury to the public and law enforcement personnel,” said Overton. “The public can enter [the holiday  weekend] — here especially in Franklin county and surrounding jurisdictions — knowing that the apprehension that has occurred, they can continue to enjoy this wonderful Thanksgiving season that we are in.”

Since the search, there are have been more than 340 investigative actions. Acting U.S. Marshal Brad Sellers is thanking the public for calling in numerous tips.

“While those did not directly lead to the apprehension today, it’s still encouraging that the public wants to help law enforcement be as efficient as possible.”

The Marine’s mother told investigators that she saw her son kill Rodney Wilfred Brown at a home in Hardy, Virginia, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. She also identified the getaway vehicle, which was later found in South Carolina, hours southwest of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where her son had been stationed.

Investigators think Brown later drove a recreational vehicle to Roanoke and tried to contact his grandmother. Police spotted the camper and used an armored vehicle to destroy it before discovering that Brown was not inside. With a suspect considered armed and dangerous thought to be loose in the area, schools in Roanoke closed for a day and residents were warned to lock their doors and windows.

According to the sheriff’s office, Brown deserted his post at Camp Lejeune, where he served as a combat engineer, in October and was then seen in and around Franklin County. He was known to live in the woods and frequent national parks and national forestland, the sheriff’s office said.

In an interview with a local TV station, Brown’s mother and grandmother had pleaded for him to turn himself in.

“Michael you’re my baby I love you, please, I can’t lose you. I’m scared for you,” his mother said. “We will get you a lawyer, we will help you, I won’t leave you, just please turn yourself in. I can’t lose another person.”

The attorney listed for Brown in court records could not immediately be reached.

Brown is charged with second degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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