Child-slaying suspect 'loved' victim Brown, 27, says he was in wrong place at the wrong time

March 07, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,STAFF WRITER

A man accused of killing two East Baltimore youths declared his innocence yesterday and said he in fact "loved" one of the boys he allegedly strangled.

In an interview at the Baltimore City Detention Center, Shawn E. Brown asserted he was arrested solely because of a conviction in New York for assaulting a boy, which enabled Baltimore police to "link everything together."

Mr. Brown's account was at odds with police and court records.

Mr. Brown said he was able to lead police to a vacant school building where one victim was found because he overheard several homeless men talk about the body while he visited a day shelter.

"That building [at Valley and Eager streets] is where a lot of people do drugs or go to do their drugs," said Mr. Brown, 27. "It was common knowledge for a while among a few people that there was a body in that building. Whatever room in which he was found, there was a lot of empty crack vials all over the place. It was used for that purpose."

Mr. Brown spoke yesterday from a barred room at the detention center, where he has been since his arrest Feb. 26 in the strangulation deaths of the two boys.

Mr. Brown spoke softly and appeared at ease -- although he said he feared he might be killed in prison. He flatly denied involvement in the deaths of the boys, as well as assaults on two New York youths. He was convicted of assaulting one of the New York youths and served all nine years of his prison term.

Baltimore police charged him with killing Marvin Douglas "Bear" Wise Jr., 8, and Obdul Richards, 16. Marvin's body was discovered Feb. 25 in a vacant apartment in the Flag House Courts public housing development; Obdul's body was found Friday in the boarded East Baltimore school.

Mr. Brown -- whose attorney described him years ago as a "schizophrenic pedophile" -- said he was very fond of "Bear." The day the youth was killed, Mr. Brown said, he had taken the boy and a 13-year-old girl on an outing to the Inner Harbor. Marvin lived at Flag House Courts; Mr. Brown said he lived occasionally with his sister at Flag House Courts.

"He was the only one I ever let into my sister's apartment when he said he was hungry. If it was cold outside and for whatever reason he didn't want to go home, I would let him come into my sister's apartment -- against her wishes," said Mr. Brown.

'Very close'

"Would I say I loved him? Yes. He and I were very close," Mr. Brown said. "There were a lot of little boys in bad situations in Flag House [Courts], but he was the only one that I wanted to do something for."

Marvin's body was found in the Exeter Street high-rise building at Flag House Courts. A witness told police that Mr. Brown was seen near the vacant apartment shortly after the body was found.

But Mr. Brown contradicted that account, saying he never went near the apartment; in addition, he said, the hallway outside the apartment was dark and it would have been difficult to see anyone.

"When I heard they found someone dead, I thought it was a junkie or something. Not Bear," he said.

Mr. Brown said he had no contact with the youth other than wrestling and other horseplay. Police have refused to say whether Marvin was sexually abused.

Often a runaway

A native of Reservoir Hill in West Baltimore, Mr. Brown attended John Eager Howard Elementary School and Northern Parkway Junior High School. After the sixth grade, he was placed in the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School for truancy and running away from )) home at least three times, he said. On one of his flights from home, he boarded a Trailways bus and rode to Flagstaff, Ariz.

He twice ran away from the Hickey School because it didn't "offer any challenges," he said. After the second escape, he was sent to the psychiatric ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"They felt, 'Well, maybe if we tinker with his brain a little we can see what's going on,' " Mr. Brown said. "Was there a problem? At the time I would have said no. Now, I'm just not sure."

He stayed two weeks at Johns Hopkins before fleeing.

"They were going to send me back to Hickey School, which was not part of the agreement that sent me to Johns Hopkins in the first place," he said. "So I took my chances, packed up my stuff, walked down to the bus station and hopped on the first thing smoking."

He had nothing but his clothes when he left Hopkins and headed north on a bus. He wound up in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1986.

"I didn't [choose Syracuse]. It was just someplace that the bus was going, and I got there by chance. When I got to the bus station, they threw me off the bus and I couldn't get back on. If I could have, I would have left Syracuse."

He said that within days of arriving in New York, he was arrested for assaulting a 10-year-old Syracuse boy. Court records show Mr. Brown pleaded guilty to hitting the boy in the face with a rock, choking him with a shoelace and trying to drown him in a puddle.

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