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Marine deserter murder suspect caught by US Marshals

Michael Alexander Brown, a Marine deserter charged with murder. (U.S. Marshal Service/Released)
November 27, 2019

A U.S. Marine who deserted his post and was wanted in the shooting death of his mother’s boyfriend was captured Wednesday after a multistate search that lasted weeks.

Michael Alexander Brown, 22, was safely apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service, according to the Associated Press. Brown is charged with second-degree murder in the Nov. 9 killing of Rodney Wilfred Brown.

Prior to the killing, the Marine was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Sheriff’s department officials reported Brown was stationed at the Marine Corps base where he served as a combat engineer before deserting his post in October.

The motive for the killing is unclear, but the Marine’s mother, Vanessa Hanson, told investigators she witnessed her son kill her boyfriend at a home in Hardy, Va. She also provided a description of the getaway vehicle, which was found eventually found in South Carolina.

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Brown is also charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, according to an FBI notice for his arrest.

Investigators believe the Marine drove a recreational vehicle to Roanoke, Va. after ditching his initial getaway vehicle. Brown may have been attempting to reach his grandmother, Diane Hanson.

The RV was eventually spotted and responding police reportedly deployed an armored vehicle to destroy the suspect RV, only to find that Brown had not been inside.

Police, then believing Brown to be armed and dangerous and on the loose, called for nearby schools and neighborhoods to be on alert. Schools were reportedly closed for a day and nearby residents were told to lock their doors and windows as a precaution.

Brown was known to live in the woods and frequently visit national parks and forest lands, raising the potential for the Marine to remain in hiding.

In an interview broadcast by WSLS-TV, Vanessa and Dianne Hanson pleaded for Brown 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.”

U.S. Marshals Service spokeswoman Nikki Credic-Barrett told the Associated Press that Brown was safely brought into custody.

A lawyer listed for Brown reportedly declined Associated Press requests for comment.