A mother and her children have remained missing persons for over 35 years despite a man confessing to their murders. In the summer of 1985, the Brown family vanished without a trace. Father James Michael Brown, 35, and mother Carolyn Brown, 27, of Port St. Lucie, Florida were both employed as teachers and were the parents of three children: 10-year-old Sheketah Brown, six-year-old Barry Brown, and two-year-old Brandon Brown. The last time Carolyn’s mother, Rosa Walker, had contact with them was on July 4, but when she could not reach them for weeks, she called authorities in August to report them missing.
Rosa lived about five hours away from the family of five in Tallahassee and spoke with her daughter at least once a week. Those calls abruptly stopped and it was determined by authorities that the Browns went missing sometime in mid-July. When police visited the Browns’ residence they found a perplexing scene; it looked as if they all just stopped their lives and vanished. Reports state there was food still sitting on the stove and on the dining room table, and it did not look as if any of their clothes had been taken. One of the rooms had even been painted and mysteriously, Carolyn’s purse was found at the home with her identification cut into pieces. There were no signs of a struggle having taken place.
At the onset of the investigation, police weren’t necessarily treating this as a missing persons case. They reportedly did not believe that there was foul play involved in the family’s disappearance, however, things began to change after neither James nor Carolyn returned to work that school year. In 1984, James was suspended from his teaching job at Lincoln Park Middle School after reportedly pleading no contest to charges that he beat Sheketah with a leather strap. However, he was expected to return to his position.
Later, James began making phone calls to friends and relatives. He was said to have contacted Carolyn’s sister to let her know that if she wanted, she could take everything from the family’s home. When asked about the family’s whereabouts he reportedly told her they were “out there,” but did not specify what that meant.
A friend told authorities that James called him and said he was working a job overseas and he had his young sons, Barry and Brandon, with him. The friend questioned James about Carolyn and Sheketah Brown, but the patriarch did not give a solid answer about their locations. Investigators later tracked down one of the family’s vehicles at an auto repair shop, but the other remains missing. While inspecting the Brown residence, police also found that the newly painted room covered up areas where blood was found.
Weeks after his family went missing, James was located at a hospital in Savannah, Georgia. He reportedly admitted himself under the name Demetrius Jones after suffering a gunshot wound to the head. He would finally reveal his identity after admitting that he murdered his family and attempted to kill himself.
James would go on to detail how he took the lives of his wife and children: Carolyn was sleeping with two-year-old Brandon beside her when James shot his wife and smothered his son with a pillow on July 14. He claimed he traveled about an hour away from Port St. Lucie to Palm Beach County to dispose of their bodies. He said he then took 10-year-old Sheketah and six-year-old Barry about four hours away to Brunswick, Georgia on July 17 and then killed them along Interstate 95. James admitted to shooting Shektah in the face and Barry in the head. He claimed he left their remains somewhere along that same highway.
James was charged and tried for the murder of Carolyn and Sheketah Brown in 1985, but he was ultimately acquitted on the ground of insanity after being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. James reportedly suffered from hallucinations including having visions and hearing voices that were not there. He did not face charges for the deaths of his sons, but he was admitted to a mental facility before he was transitioned to a halfway house in 1996. The following year, James was a free man who was back into society, but in 2005, he was jailed over a robbery where he reportedly threatened the life of a bank employee.
Meanwhile, investigators combed through the areas when James claimed he disposed of his wife and children’s remains but did not turn up any evidence. Carolyn, Sheketah, Barry, and Brandon Brown remain missing persons.
At the time of her disappearance, Sheketah Brown stood 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 65 pounds. She had black/dark brown hair and brown eyes. Sheketah wore eyeglasses. She would be 46-years-old at the time of this publication. Carolyn Brown stood 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 180 pounds. She had black/dark brown hair and brown eyes. She wore eyeglasses and had a gap in the middle of her front teeth. She would be 64-years-old at the time of this publication.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at (888) 356-4774, the Port Saint Lucie Police Department at (772) 871-5001, or their local authorities. The agency case number is 8508339.
Please share this story about Carolyn and Sheketah Brown and their family to help bring them home. She is our sister and her life matters.
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