48ºF

Neighbors: Marine murdered man he grew up believing was his father

Search continues for 22-year-old wanted for murder in Franklin County

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – The search continued Monday after a Marine allegedly killed his mom's boyfriend in Franklin County, and neighbors are shedding light on why he may have done it.

Deputies are looking for 22-year-old Michael Brown, who they said killed his mom's live-in boyfriend Rodney Brown inside the man's house in the Hardy community Saturday.

They said it's unclear why Michael Brown allegedly committed the crime, but neighbors told 10 News they believe he had recently found out the victim was not his father after believing his whole life that he was. 

Deputies were out in full force Monday near the crime scene on Woodthrush Circle.

They have not specified exactly where they're focusing their search efforts, but they're not the only department involved.

Deputies are looking for Michael Brown in Craven County, North Carolina, which is near the base where he was stationed. A Franklin County Sheriff's Office spokesperson  said the Marine deserted his post at Camp Lejeune about a month ago.

Officers said they're considering Brown armed and dangerous. He's believed to have a high-powered rifle and may have access to other weapons.

Officials at the base said Monday that no guns were missing from his unit's armory, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS, is assisting the investigation.

The crime scene is on private property and isn't visible from nearby roads. It's located in a neighborhood that's both residential and filled with farmland.

Neighbors said the suspect had lived there his whole life before joining the military.

"The loss of a life is terrible and especially so close to us here and we felt terrible," neighbor Rob Yanok said. "My first thought was he's on his way somewhere else to get away from here as far as possible because you have to know everybody is looking here for him, so we weren't really threatened."

One witness said they heard one gunshot Saturday, though gunshots a nearby range can be heard throughout the day.

Some neighbors said they're scared Brown might still be in the area.

"My heart was racing. I didn't feel very safe," said a witness who didn't want to be named. "It scares me a lot."

Others said he's probably long gone.

"We still feel very safe, and it was very reassuring, a sheriff's deputy came by yesterday and knocked on the door and told us they would have an increased presence in the area," Yanok said.

Deputies said a picture from surveillance shows Michael Brown inside a local store. Neighbors said it's a gas station that's not far from the neighborhood.

Deputies said Brown has been known to live in the woods and frequent national parks and national forest areas. 

They said he's been driving a black 2008 Lincoln Town Car, with the possible North Carolina plate: EHP-4877.

Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Michael Brown will face a second-degree murder charge and a gun charge, confirming that they believe he killed the victim but not confirming whether he may have shot while committing the crime.


About the Author: