Monday, February 3, 2003

Family seeks public's help solving homicide

By Jon Gambrell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Nearly a year after they last saw him alive, Paul W. Brown's family has stepped up its efforts to get answers to his unsolved slaying.

After holding a fund-raising benefit last year, the Brown family made enough money to add $9,000 to the $1,000 reward already in place, and to buy billboard space in six locations around Hamilton.

But the billboards are only the latest strategy to find Brown's killer. A few weeks after the murder, the family and volunteers distributed 8,000 fliers in the area where he was last seen. The family also set up a display at the Butler County Fair this past summer.

"We wanted to keep alive in people's minds that it was still unsolved," said his sister, Leeanne Bowling.

Last March 23 was the last time Brown was with his family. It was his brother Matt's 30th birthday and the family gathered for a meal of grilled steaks.

Later that night, Matt Browndropped Paul Brown off at a BW3 restaurant in Hamilton. It would be the last time he'd see him alive.

Paul Brown, 33, was found stabbed to death on March 27, 2002, in a small creek not too far away. At the time of the murder, the Miami University graduate with a degree in public administration lived alone. He had taken a year's worth of graduate level courses from Ohio State.

Described as a quiet and friendly man, Brown had no known enemies, authorities say. Police haven't identified any suspects.

Brown's family wants to keep the case on the mind of the citizens of Hamilton, hoping that someone will come forward with new information.

Bowling said the pain of thinking about her brother has changed over time.

"It is different at different times," the 32-year-old mother of two said. "I had a tough time last night. I pulled out all my old photographs and rehashed everything. His death changed our lives. We never go an hour without thinking about Paul.

"(Talking to the media) about Paul's death is by no means my favorite thing to do, but it is necessary."

As she recalled the day she learned about his death, she looked away, toward a shelf full of family photos. Matt Brown, who sat next to her, took over.

"Paul had been missing for a few days," he said. "Someone said that some kids had found a body in a creek. We found out later that day it was Paul."

Hamilton police spokesman Dave Crawford said the number of homicides in the Butler County seat has fluctuated between three and seven a year over the past five years. However, most of these cases have been closed. "Each case has its own specific reasoning," said Crawford, a police officer for nearly 20 years. "Sometimes, we don't know why (a murder) happened, even with an arrest. We might have all the facts and evidence present, but we might never know why."

Crawford said that detectives are still following up on every lead that comes in.

The Browns plan more events to raise money for the cause. A Feb. 15 hockey game between Ohio State and Miami will be in honor of Paul, who attended both schools. The game will take place prior to a Cincinnati Mighty Ducks game, with one-third of the money going to the Paul W. Brown Foundation.

"We don't want any other family to go through this at the hands of an evil person," Matt Brown said. "We also don't want someone walking free when Paul is in the grave."

"It's not revenge we are looking for. I don't know what to call it."

He stopped for a moment, looking over to his sister.

"Justice," she responded.

(Complete Columbia coverage at

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