Private investigator comments on AG’s decision to suspend Brown case

“Justice for Tom” signs in a yard in Borger. The signs have been sold nationwide. (photo by Cynthia Reyes)

Philip Klein claims he was falsely accused by Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office for placing Brown’s cellphone at Lake Marvin

The joint statement last week that Texas Attorney General's Office, the FBI and the Texas Rangers have suspended their investigation on the death of Tom Brown, the Canadian teenager who disappeared on Nov. 23, 2016, after dropping off two of his friends, sent a shock wave through the Panhandle community.
On Facebook, hundreds of people, including respected Panhandle newspaper columnist Jon Mark Beilue, indicated they were completely sideswiped by the AG Office's released statement, in particular, the sentence that stated, “There is no viable evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that foul play led to the death of Thomas Kelly Brown.”
Brown's remains were found in early January near Lake Marvin, a wilderness area near Canadian, by a deputy from the Hemphill County Sheriff's Office.
“How could you not come to the conclusion that it had to be foul play?,” Beilue wrote on his Facebook page. “The AG and law enforcement must think there's a whole lot of stupid in the Texas Panhandle and we hitched a ride up here on the first turnip truck to believe this absurd conclusion.”
In contrast to the reaction of hundreds — if not thousands — of people who have been following the case, Philip Klein, whose firm Klein Investigations and Consulting was hired to conduct a private investigation, had a more measured response when interviewed by the News-Herald on Monday.
Asked if he agreed with the AG's conclusion, Klein said, “The simple answer is we are not there with the AG yet.”
Klein said that as law enforcement agencies they must come up with probable cause and intent that someone killed Tom Brown.
Klein said he attended the meeting in Pampa at the 31st District Attorney’s Office where the decision was made to suspend the investigation.
“They didn't come up with any logical conclusions on homicide or suicide,” Klein said. “All we have is a body and we are back to square one. We feel horrible for the AG because they have busted their butts off.”
Klein emphasized that the case is not closed.
“We want everyone to understand that we are going to take a breath and go over what we've done,” he said. “It's not over, not even close to being over. We are continuing our side of the investigation.”
Klein said that as of Monday afternoon his office in Nederland near Houston had received 17 tips in the past 96 hours.
Then Klein repeated the mantra he has stated in the press and on social media so many times, “If you know something, say something.”

Klein said there are several “anomalies,” most of which are connected to the Hemphill County Sheriff's Office, that perplex him.
“We have always investigated this as a questionable death and there are some anomalies we are looking at,” he said. “(In an investigation like this) you tend to go to the nefarious side. We did a search with 300 or 400 people and found books, a back pack, a small gun case other items we are not discussing.”
Another thing that was found, Klein said, was a cellphone in pristine condition.
“We didn't know it at the time, but it was Tom Brown's. The FBI was able to open it it was in perfect condition. That led us to believe it was placed outside there the night before the search. The public knew there was going to be search.”
The second anomaly — which likewise puzzled Beilue and many others — was that Brown's body was found 15 miles away from his vehicle, a Dodge Durango.
“How do kill yourself or be a homicide and your car is 15 miles away?” Klein said.
The third anomaly, Klein said, are the circumstances surrounding the discovery of Brown's body.
Klein said that a Hemphill County deputy, Pyne Gregory, stated that he found Brown's remains out on Lake Marvin Road at mile marker 12 while looking for deer antlers or deer scat while on duty.
“Why would a deputy of Hemphill county be on duty in his patrol car looking for antlers and find a body?” Klein asked rhetorically.
Additionally, Klein said that on the day that Lake Marvin was searched by 300 or 400 people, that same deputy was parked on Lake Marvin Road at mile marker 12.
“It is our understanding that he (Gregory) parked at the same Mile Marker and was walking a path when he came across remains,” said Caroline Gear of Klein Investigations on the observation of Gregory later discovering remains near the same place he had parked months earlier.
The fourth anomaly, Klein said, is that a picture of Brown pumping gas the night he disappeared was in the case file at the Hemphill County Sheriff's Office.
“It magically disappeared and Hemphill County (Sheriff's Office) swears they don't remember that piece of evidence but two on my staff and Tom's mother swear they saw it.”
And it is perhaps the last anomaly that bothers Klein the most.
( … the parents were brought into Sheriffs Office and the sheriff suggested to them that I, Phillip Klein, or someone on my team placed the phone there (at Lake Marvin). They also told that to AG's office.”
He said that suggestion was a lie.
Klein said he was summoned to Waco to take a polygraph and the test showed “no deception.”
“Klein (Investigations) arrived on the scene after the cellphone was found and I was shocked and angered by that suggestion,” he said.
Klein said that Gregory no long works at the Sheriff's Office.
In April, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that the Texas Rangers was conducting an investigation of Gregory and Hemphill County Sheriff Nathan Lewis, but did not provide specifics.
The investigation has since been turned over to the Texas AG's Office, a spokeswoman for DPS said Tuesday.
Neither Lewis nor the AG's Office could be reached for comment.

Brown's two friends and suicide note
The News-Herald asked Klein if he knew the names of the two friends riding with Brown on the night he disappeared. Klein answered yes, but said that since they were minors at the time that precluded him from disclosing their names.
The News-Herald also asked if he had read a suicide note written by one of the fathers of Brown's two friends. Klein said he has seen the note, but only would say that there is no evidence at this time that Brown's disappearance and the suicide — which occurred about two days after Brown's remains were discovered — were somehow connected.

Secrets of Hemphill County
Klein said he has investigated over 1,800 missing person cases in his 31 years in the field.
His company is one of the most sought-after missing-persons investigation firms in the nation and many of his cases, including the Tom Brown disappearance, have been featured in the national media.
He said what makes the Tom Brown disappearance different from most of his other cases he has is the small-town mindset of Canadian and Hemphill County.
He called it “the secrets of Hemphill County.”
“They don't like to talk about the bad things,” he said. “They like to talk about the good things — oil, football — but they don't like to talk about a crime, but there is evil and evil needs to be dealt with.”
Not long ago, yard signs in Canadian that stated, “Justice for Tom. There is a killer among us” where vandalized. The words “There is a killer among us” were ripped out. Since then, hundreds of signs have been placed in yards across the nation to raise awareness about cloudy circumstances surrounding Brown's death.
In a local news media interview in the days following the discovery of Brown's remains, Klein said that there was a monster in the community. And when a story covering a memorial service for Brown at Canadian High School in early February was linked to Facebook, someone commented that the killer was likely inside the gym attending the service.
“But along with the bad, there is a lot of good in Canadian, Klein said.
Through his visits to Canadian, Klein said has met about “50 percent” of the community.
“So many people have come up to me and said, 'Thank you. Don't give up.'”

Brown was loved by all who knew him
Brown was born in Pampa on Sept. 13, 1998, and started school in Canadian in 2006. His mother, Penny Meek, lives in Canadian and his father, Kelly Brown, now lives in Perryton.
Brown was senior class president and active in the football and theater programs. Those who knew him, including church pastors in Canadian, said he had a caring heart and stood up for those who couldn’t.
Klein asked that anyone with information about Brown's disappearance contact Caroline Gear at 409-729-8798 x3 or email
Again, Klein repeated the mantra, “If you know something, say something.”