Family members are pleading with a Marine ― who was charged with desertion and murder and is the target of a federal manhunt in Virginia after his mother told police she saw him shoot her boyfriend and then flee ― to turn himself in to authorities.
Cpl. Michael Alexander Brown failed to report for duty on Oct. 24 at 8th Engineer Support Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Capt. Robert Vachon, 2nd Marine Logistics Group spokesman told Marine Corps Times Friday.
Brown, 22, is a combat engineer at 8th Engineer Support Battalion, who has served in the Marine Corps since July 2016, according to the Corps.
In the weeks following his unauthorized absence, he was seen in the area of Franklin County, Virginia, where his home of record is located.
Franklin County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Department informed Marine officials that Brown was a suspect in a murder investigation in the death of his mother’s boyfriend, Rodney Wilfred Brown, 54, on Nov. 9.
Brown’s mother told U.S. Marshals in court documents that she saw her son shoot Rodney Brown and then flee in a white 1976 Cadillac.
Officials have not released information into a motive for the killing. Cpl. Michael Alexander Brown faces state charges of second-degree murder and a federal charge of unlawful flight, according to local and federal law enforcement releases.
He also faces a separate state charge of felony larceny involving heavy construction equipment in Craven County, North Carolina, the site of his last known address. That charge was filed before the recent alleged incidents occurred.
The Marine Corps has since charged him with desertion, Vachon told Marine Corps Times.
Franklin sheriff’s deputies began a search for Brown, who was spotted on a local gas station’s security camera footage later on the same day of the shooting.
Marshals learned that Brown may now be using a recreational vehicle and in the Clarendon County, South Carolina, area. They later find an abandoned trailer with a black 2008 Lincoln Town car that Brown had previously been seen driving in the area.
On Nov. 14, police in Roanoke, Virginia ― near Brown’s home in Hardy, Virginia ― received reports around 4 a.m. of a “suspicious person wearing a black jacket tapping on windows a few blocks away from Patrick Henry High School," according to the Roanoke Times.
“I think family is what brought him," Roanoke Police Chief Tim Jones said when asked by local media why Brown would have returned to the area from South Carolina.
The high school was put on lockdown Thursday and one of the homes the suspicious person, believed to be Brown, had approached was his grandmother’s residence.
Agents found the RV near a local church near Roanoke at around 5 a.m. Using an armored vehicle, they first ordered Brown to exit the vehicle before ramming it, bursting its sides and finding it unoccupied.
On Friday, an area-wide search continued for Brown.
Police told the public Thursday at a news conference that they believed Brown was on foot in the area and in search of transportation.
Authorities lifted the school closing but have continued to seek assistance from the public should the see Brown. They have cautioned that he is considered to be armed and dangerous.
Family members who spoke with local media are encouraging him to turn himself into police.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.