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This episode of Tom Brown's Body is brought to you by murder book, the popular True Crime podcast, hosted by best selling author Michael Connelly, is now available with a brand new season. Also, be sure to check out the loss of innocence. Michael Connelly's newest Lincoln Lawyer novel available November 10th. During the year 2017, the private investigator, Philip Klein, got countless tips regarding the case of Tom Brown.
We've got everything from he was a clown at the circus or he was a circus trainer or whatever. He was with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey all the way to. He was a wrestler in North Carolina until he was in Los Angeles, California, living on the streets of L.A. to the absurd, which was there was a motorcycle gang that had kidnapped him on the side of the road after he pump gas at parks.
But in September, Klein said 11 months after Tom disappeared, he was sitting in his office when a call came through and it was a young female from the Canadian area. And she gave us information that only investigators knew. So we knew at that point, OK, now this person is for real. And she told us something else that really kind of set us back a little bit. She because I can't carry this on my conscience for the rest of my life.
And did she seem nervous at first? But I put her at ease. I talked to her a little bit. I had heard of her before. And she said she had overheard someone who she knew was is a relative. I'm not going to go into that, only to say she said that she had overheard a conversation that she probably shouldn't have overheard. That's how she presented to us. I said, well, what would that I mean, it could be anything from Tom's diabetic to Tom's dead.
I mean, it could be anything. And so the way I looked at it was, well, what was the conversation? And then she started talking. I didn't ask her any questions. I just let her talk. And I had a notepad out. And I remember on the notepad writing, OMG, OMG. And one of the things she said to you was that she had overheard where Tom's body was. She had overheard that his body was placed to know the exact location, but she had overheard that his body was placed on like Marven Road.
Like Marvin's Road, that's the same farm to market road where Tom's backpack had been found, according to the young woman, Tom's body was somewhere along that same road.
It seemed that Philip Klein had finally gotten the break he had been looking for. He was on the verge of finding Tom Brown's body. From Texas Monthly, I'm Skip Hollandsworth and this is Tom Brown's body. Episode five, Unusual Suspects. After getting off the phone with the young woman, Klein brought his staff together for a meeting. Actually, that was a turning point that day. That's when we all kind of looked at each other and got on the phone and Skype and talked to each other and said, OK, look, we're dealing in a homicide investigation.
Klein ordered his staffers to broadcast what he described as an all call on his firm's Facebook page, soliciting volunteers to participate in a massive search. The response was overwhelming. More than 500 applications came in and 150 volunteers were chosen. Most of them came from Canadian others from nearby Panhandle towns. A few traveled from as far away as Kansas. Early on the morning of October 14th, twenty seventeen, the volunteers gathered near the start of Lake Marvin's road. They peered up at the six foot, six inch clean as they stood in the bed of a pickup truck.
What I did was I gave everybody a small speech. I told them they were doing God's work. And I did give an inspirational talk, which is, look, it's hot. It's going to get hot out here today. You know, you need water. Tell us whatever you need. Tell us. But this is important.
Klein asked the volunteers to be on the lookout for items that Tom had carried with him the night he disappeared. And I found his glasses, his keys, because a twenty five caliber shell casing had been found in Tom's Durango and told them to also be on the alert for a small caliber handgun. Lastly, he assumed that wild hogs or other animals had already gotten to Tom's body. So he directed the volunteers to look for human bones. Then Kline introduced the crowd to Tom's mom, Penny.
She stood beside the pickup and she read a passage from the Book of Genesis. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good. Several of the volunteers, including some who had never met Tom, wiped tears from their eyes, climbed and said a prayer.
I did ask for peace and strength for each of the volunteers for their safety. And also if we can find items that would push this investigation a long time.
All the volunteers were divided into groups of 10. Each group was given roughly a mile of the road to search. Five volunteers on one side, five on the other. They got on their hands and knees to dig through the brush. They peered beneath fallen tree branches break through piles of dead leaves, climbed in and out of drainage ditches. Klein, of course, made sure the Panhandle news media was there to chronicle the event.
It's been almost a year since Canadian teen Thomas Brown went missing. Today, hundreds swept together to get answers.
Only six minutes into the search for a woman who was near the start of the road started yelling. She'd come across something in the grass. It was an iPhone, she said. Klein hurried over. I get there.
I look at it go, holy crap. We're all looking at it. Everybody snap pictures. We're like, Holy God, oh, Jesus.
The phone had a champagne tent, which happened to be the same color as Tom's iPhone. But Klein said he didn't actually think the phone was Tom's because it was in perfect condition, pristine.
It had been damaged by the by the Moers. It has been.
It's like out of the box. I took one look at it and went, oh, that's not Tom's because that's fresh. Somebody just threw that out. Or maybe somebody dropped it. One of the searchers dropped it out of the backpack or something. That's that's a fresh found.
Although that side of the road had recently been mowed, the phone had no cracks or scratches, there had been heavy rains in recent weeks, but the phone didn't have any signs of water damage. In other words, there was no way the phone could have been out in that grass for more than a day or two. The phone would later be sent to an FBI forensics lab for analysis. Meanwhile, the volunteers continued searching.
They collected a few shreds of deteriorated clothing and a shoe. Someone found an empty black pistol case that could have held a twenty five caliber handgun, but there was no sign of Tom's body. If Klein was disappointed, he didn't show it when he talked that afternoon to Larry Brown, the editor of The Canadian Record, by the way, the panting sound you'll hear in the background is coming from chants, the famous cadaver dog that Klein had brought in from Georgia to sniff around successful day.
Yeah, I'd say it was a real successful day. I think we I think we were able to take some things off the board and we definitely added some stuff onto the board. So my my thought process is I'm very happy with the day. Of course, you know, we're all looking for conclusionary, conclusionary ending. Then it makes sense. We're looking for conclusionary findings for the Brown case. But, you know, we're just not there yet. But we are getting closer for the first time.
I feel very comfortable in saying that we took about five big steps forward. I told them on the way in I was very proud of everybody, how everybody stuck to their guns and really worked hard. I mean, you saw us out there. We were out there in the trenches kicking snags and yeah, I mean, it was tough and it was people passing out because of the heat. And, you know, that that talks about the grit of the people up here in North Texas and especially in Canadian.
And I was very impressed. Equally, we had law enforcement from Kansas, from Oklahoma, from New Mexico.
How did you recruit them or. No, they just volunteered, volunteered, just drove down there on their own dime.
And it's so impressive. It really is. And it also shows the nationality of this case.
And so, you know, I'm not saying it's the biggest thing in the world because it's not although it is here, although in Canadian it is that are going to be my next day. And it cuts to the heart. It gets to the heart. It's a boy and it's just a kid. Kid didn't do anything. He wanted to do any nefarious activity. The kid was a little kooky. Yeah. Aren't we all a little kooky? Yeah, we're all a little kooky.
I mean, you know, I live my life for a week. You jump out of there and go, oh my God. But but he was a good boy. He had a good heart and a good set of parents. His father is devastated by this, devastated. He can't even come down here. That's how devastated the man is. And I don't blame him. His mother, she walks around a state of shock. His stepfather walks around a state of shock.
I was with him this afternoon talking to him and briefing him on what we found and what was going on and the direction we felt this thing was going next. Devastated. We're just devastated. So you'll be back? Yes, ma'am. You we don't disclose our travel. You know that. If we come in, we come in quiet. Sure. Although now, you know, like I told you, already knows what everybody knows. Everybody knows who you are.
I mean I mean, I walk into a restaurant. I was in the cattle company the other day and I sat down just to have a quick hamburger, a hamburger and a coke. And I said and a hamburger and coke and told lady that I got to go, where's my bill? And she said, Your bills paid. I'm like, Oh, come on. You know, you guys don't have to do that. And she goes, we didn't do it.
That a couple said over there that recognized you from television, paid your bill. It's that sort of thing that I can I mean, I don't have that in these cases that I do around the world. Being Canadian, Texas, I did. That's the community is in engaged. The community is is is prayerful. These are good people. These are great people. But we've just got to make this happen. And all the funny stuff, Scott, and it's just got to stop.
And Penny of them have a serious situation on their hands and people need to surround that family and all the politics and all the the craziness of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that crap that's got to end. It's got to stop. Everybody put down their shields and let's get to work.
Nobody cares who solves this case.
Let's just get it solved. Let's bring Tom home. Let's put him in the ground and then let's prosecute the people that we have to prosecute. Later that fall, Klein did return to Canadian and he made yet another appearance on Chris Sample's radio show.
Is there anything else new in the investigation? Have there been any other new pieces of evidence that have been factors?
Klein told listeners about another tantalizing tip he had received, this one involving a brown or copper colored pickup.
It was seen in the downtown area during the time of the disappearance. The truck was seen turning on like Marvin's road. The truck had been seen earlier in the evening up by the football field. So we're looking for the Ford F 250. You see either a copper or a brown colored truck, and we need to talk to that occupant. We believe they live in the area of Canadian and we believe even more they live in the county or maybe an adjacent county.
So that's what we're asking the public to do. And it is very important, as I tell you all the time, piece of the puzzle. On another trip to Canadian, Kline performed a luminol test on the interior of Tom's Durango, which was back in Penny's garage. Luminol is a chemical that detects trace amounts of blood, and the sheriff's department had not performed the test.
So I bring my luminol box out there because investigators case we luminol the car, we light it up like a Christmas tree. There's blood everywhere.
Klein saw the blood in the Durango is further evidence that Tom was the victim of foul play. Meanwhile, over at the sheriff's department, Sheriff Nathan Lewis was also getting inundated with tips. One man called to say he'd heard that Tom had been killed and fed to pigs, a prisoner at the county jail arranged a meeting with Lewis. He let him know that a gay meth dealer had stuffed the senior class president into a wood chipper after having sex with it.
The rumors about Tom just seemed to multiply, becoming more and more sensational by the day. I think your hands are five dollars. Yeah, I think behind that for my little girl. I we'll have a good day. Bye bye. Good afternoon, Kenny. How are you?
During one of my trips to Canadian, I paid a visit to Katrina Adcock, the owner of Trini's Treasures, a second resale shop on Main Street. Show me around.
OK, so this is a gift shop, a kind of antique shop. Yes, this is you can find it all here store.
So what is your most popular part of the store? When I open my front room because it's got over. And so this is my guy, Manekin, he's a guy with boobs, he's clearly a guy, but they they forgot part of his anatomy. That's true. It's just this just the rest of it. So this is this is men's clothing. This is the men's.
And the boys are just kind of combine them together.
By the way, you've lived in Canadian for how long? My whole life. And you're. How old? I'm 40.
I was born in this hospital before they quit having babies in 79.
Katrina seems to know something about everyone in town. In November 2016, Tom Brown disappears.
What are you and your friends thinking?
OK, so me and my husband were at home and we seen it on the TV and I was like, they're not going to find him alive. They're just not going to find him alive.
There's not very many incidences that happen in Canadian Texas.
Where did people say Tom was? Everybody thought that he was in a drainage ditch or in a in a drainage ditch.
Dead. Yeah. And where else did people say he was in in.
Well, there's this one girl. They said she every time she went by this one, well, they she just instantly would think of Tom. You know, I know this is the weirdest story, but here's a tip over there. And apparently the rumor is they used to drink and have sex in the teepee. I don't know. There's a hundred million thousand stories that have been around about what could have happened. But these people, they live here every day.
They're real people. You know, they her they love. They laugh, they cry, they do all these things.
When she had run out of her own stories, Katrina passed on the name and phone number of a friend who knew the details of other stories.
I'm telling you, I'm going to give you this lady's number and she'll tell you exactly where this girl said, because I don't want to misconstrue it, OK? As the rumors grew about Tom's fate, it seemed no one was above suspicion, no matter who they were. Tom's friends, Christian Webb and Caleb Keane, continued to get caught up in the web of allegations. Here's Christian's mom, Anita.
A lot of the people in this town were not nice to her. We're not nice to us. So it was it was a difficult time for still live. She and I had walked into a flower shop and Canadian and one of her ex teachers was in there that she had in high school teacher, that she always got along very well. And that teacher basically snubbed her, didn't talk to her, didn't acknowledge or kind of turned her back and never gave her the time of day.
But never I mean, it was it was heartbreaking. We walked out of that flower shop and she had tears in her eyes.
I mean, she was Christian, talked about as knowing more than what she was letting on to be.
Oh, absolutely. And she went when she went back to OSU, my youngest son had went over to visit her one weekend, and he had a good friend that went to school there. Also that he was from Canadian and so Christian and Elliott went over to his apartment one afternoon and he was having a party with friends and they walked in. And the first thing the kid said to Christian was worse. Tom, you know where he's at. I mean, and it just it it took her back.
It's hard to even explain how many people believe that she had something to do in this town. Caleb King was so troubled by the constant online accusations that he stayed off of social media entirely. Here he is talking to Laurie Brown.
I mean, how do you think this has changed you, Caleb? I think I don't like people as much as I used to. It was just interesting how quickly you could see a town turn on somebody that they don't know and how they did just a nasty crap that they would spout. And it just kind of made me think, well, you know, we like to advertise ourselves as this clean country. We're all friendly folks here, town.
And that's just B.S.. At one point, Canadians gossip circuit even implicated Kristiansen Caleb's parents, you know, Caleb's dad is a state representative. My husband's family has been here forever, Branch. People think that we just have tons of money. They can believe what they want, but they say those two families as well be families. So immediately it went too well. They have money. So they're covering up for their kids. It seemed like every time I called Katrina of Trina's treasures, she'd gotten wind of a new rumor.
Hello. Hi. Is this Katrina? Yes, it's Skip Hollandsworth, the reporter. Hi, Skip. How are you? I'm good. How are you? I mean, I've been dying to talk to you, actually. What's going on? Well, I mean, ton's, which part do you want to know?
During this call, she told me her latest theory that a group of boys was initially holding Tom captive and at some point they accidentally killed him.
And then they tried to figure out what to do with the bodies. But I think they moved it three times and they froze. It weren't. They what I think they froze it once and they moved it three times. How do you freeze body? And if either family do any kind of meat and why would they be doing all of this to try to figure out what to do next?
Katrina also let me know that she ordered a new version of the woodchipper story. But this one was about Sheriff Lewis.
So a friend of mine's popped in and he said that a guy had showed up at his house and his phone got left there. And so he looked on his phone and seen messages from Nathan Lewis. It said Nathan Lewis on the phone. And the statement at the very end of this conversation were with him in the ass and threw him in a wood chipper. And the next comment coming from Nathan's phone was. Well, I know. No one in Canadian was talked about more than the sheriff, I called Lewis to ask about all the stories circulating about him.
So you had one rumor that said you were having a gay relationship with Tom. Then there would be another rumor which said you were so resentful of Tom's mother that you decided to kill Tom. So crazy. That's so crazy. Have you ever heard a rumor that you were part of a sex trafficking ring that kidnapped boys? I've heard everything scared, if it's if you can think of it. That nasty, awful craft, and it's been said, did you ever hear a rumor that you had a homosexual hot tub ring?
More than likely, yes. I don't personally look at these things, but I've got friends that tell me. And if you want to laugh or do you want to, like, slam your hand into the wall? I have never felt so horrible in my life having people on social media that have no clue what's going on with this case, that these people have no idea what's going on. All they're hearing is a one sided story and they're making their judgment calls.
They are judging me and they even know why I'm having people out there saying all kinds of hateful things against me, accusing me of this and that. Yeah, I got tired of it. I was completely fed up with it. You know, these people dragging my family through this stuff. I've got kids. I've got a wife. If anything, the slander and finger pointing and disinformation only hindered the actual search for Tom indeed is twenty seventeen gave way to twenty eighteen.
The investigations by both Philip Klein and Nathan Lewis seem to have permanently stalled.
And then on January 12th, twenty eighteen, some news arrived from the FBI and it had to do with the iPhone the Kleins volunteer had found during that search back in October of like Marvin's road because of a backlog of cases, FBI lab technicians had delayed their analysis of the phone it had set on a shelf for weeks. Finally, the lab tests, it opened it up. The phone, they said belonged to Tom Brown. Matty Anjani here from Texas Monthly, we are excited to tell you about a murder book, the popular True Crime podcast, hosted by best selling author Michael Connelly.
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It's so good you are. At the center of the case are a group of fierce women that include a prosecutor, a writer and several women who survived brutal attacks by little. It's been inspiring to follow along with their stories as well as the case itself.
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So check out season two of Michael Connelly's podcast murder book, Wherever you get your podcast or at murder book. Podcast Dotcom. That's Murder Book podcast Dotcom. Thank you for supporting Tom Brown's body. Of all the bizarre twist in this case, the revelation about Tom's phone was possibly the most confounding.
I was shocked, absolutely shocked by the whole the whole team was totally shocked because the phone was found in such pristine condition.
It was obvious it had been planted only a few days, maybe only a few hours before Klein's search had begun. It was also likely that whoever had put the phone there wanted it to be found. But why, if that person was involved in Tom's disappearance or death, why hadn't he or she just gotten rid of the phone, maybe thrown it into the Canadian river?
Yes, we felt it was a diversion technique, an amateurish diversion technique, may I say, by somebody they were trying to divert us away from where we were searching.
Klein's theory was that Tom's killer had taken Tom's phone and kept it hidden away. When the killer then heard about Klein's search in October. Twenty seventeen, he decided to plant the phone in the grass, hoping that once it was found, Klein would order his volunteers to focus the search in that area. And not all the way down the road where they might find more damning evidence like Tom's body.
Once we didn't back down and we continued our search again and again and again and again out there. I think that the person responsible for this crime became nervous and said, oh, shit, they're not going to give up on this out there. So that's my theory.
But why wouldn't he just say this? Paranoia, paranoia. Somebody does something wrong, especially somebody in their younger years. Paranoia sets in. I mean, who's dumb enough to throw a phone out on a road and expect us to just said, oh, there's the phone? Well, you know, it's just amateur hour. So someone had planted Tom's phone. That alone was a stunning hypothesis, but Klein wasn't finished. He reminded me that he had withheld the exact location of the search until right before it began.
He said he didn't want rubberneckers coming out to the road and perhaps coming across potential evidence. He even made sure the volunteers themselves had been told where they would be searching until that very morning.
So the only people that knew about the actual how it was going to happen was 48 hours before that was law enforcement.
And did they know because Lewis says he had no idea where you were going to go? Did they know exactly where you were going to be searching? That's untruthful. He knew the whole time. Klein's implication was clear only a law enforcement insider could have known where to plant the phone and who did Klein suspect was that law enforcement insider? His primary suspect, he told me, was Hemphill County Sheriff Nathan Lewis. Klein said that he had not trusted Lewis from the moment he met him.
He says that Lewis still resented Penny for the complaint she had filed against him after his 2015 run in with Tom outside the movie theater. Klein was also suspicious about Lewis's early mistakes in the investigation, like sending the Durango back to Penny's house before it had been fully processed. Klein wondered if Lewis been trying to taint a crime scene. Some people have said to us that it was inexperienced and inexperienced, sheriff, a dumb sheriff, somebody that know what he was doing, somebody that loved to put on the uniform and run around and run radar.
That's all he really knew how to run radar didn't know how to test. He didn't know the proper rules of evidence procedure. He didn't know the Texas Criminal Code. Well, he didn't he didn't know any of that.
OK, but Klein said he didn't think inexperience could explain everything. When I spoke to him in his office one day, he didn't hold back.
And you got a sheriff that, quite frankly, I think he was corrupt. OK, just flat out corrupt. And you can use that. That's my belief. That's my feeling.
That's my that's. Klein said that whenever he came to Canadian, Lewis would go out of his way to be unhelpful, which decline was a clear sign he was hiding something.
I mean, I work with law enforcement all over the United States, and law enforcement does not like private security guys. They just don't unless you have a law enforcement background that's natural and normal. I work with it all the time. I've been working with it for 31 years. I just roll my eyes and laugh and then they figure out who I am and what I've done and my success rate. And they go, oh, OK, you're the real deal.
Look, what do you think about this? What do you think about that? They never did that. They always were just snotty. They always were snarky. They always had oh, I don't even know how to describe it. They always had a way about them that they were simply telling us that we were full of crap and we didn't know what we were talking about.
There was one meeting in particular at the sheriff's department that stuck with Klein. It occurred in April. Twenty seventeen.
I just go back to that meeting that we had at the sheriff's department where we were all sitting around the table and we were all going over evidence and timelines. And they they kind of laughed at us and said, you don't have anything, do you? And we come with them, said, yeah, we don't over, you know, at that point forty or fifty interviews. And this is what the kids are saying. And like Marvin is ground zero.
And they started laughing and they were walking back and forth of their chairs. What, two year olds laughing and smirking at us and especially the sheriff. Klein had brought along the cadaver dog, Chance and Chance, his trainer, Tracy Sargent, to the meeting, hoping the dog could sniff Tom's backpack.
And I asked the question flat out, would you mind going in the evidence room? And you guys can control it. We won't touch it. Nobody will get near her. But could you put the backpack in the hallway and let chance sniff? Let's see how she reacts.
Klein said they were told no chance wasn't allowed near the backpack. After the meeting, Klein and his staffers enchants. The dog stood on the steps outside the sheriff's department.
I remember this is the day is long on the steps of of Hemphill County Sheriff's Department. We walk out and look at each other and wait. What was that? We we've got a cover up here. My God. And law enforcement's involved. When I talked to Sheriff Lewis, he confirmed that he had refused to cooperate with Klein, but that was because he didn't trust the private eye any more than Klein trusted him. Klein said Lewis was the cause of most of the rumor mongering.
You know, just telling people that we have people of interest that we have. We've narrowed it down to three people, all of them suspects. You know, first of all, there is no suspect. We have no suspects. So how does he have a suspect when he's given all of his information to law enforcement where he's the suspects? And then it would come out when he would send names? We've already investigated those people. We ought to interview those people.
Well, the Texas Rangers of the FBI had already cleared those people and he's still out there slandering these people when law enforcement has already claimed it was just it was things like that. You know, he took things out there for people to latch onto other suspects. Oh, they've got they've narrowed it down to three or four. We've got great information. We're moving to the next county because he hard on a sheriff. I mean, I'd say stuff like that and I would just keep it would keep things out of brothels.
But there's certainly something going on in reality. There was nothing going on at all. But he would always put out there that we're hot on the trail. This is what we got it. This is a murder. Just as Klein said, he had a gut feeling that Lewis had something to do with that planted cell phone, Lewis said he had a feeling that Klein and Tom's mom, Penny, knew much more about that phone than they were saying.
We had a sit down with Penny. We had these updates every so often when we bring her in and she brings friends in and all that kind of stuff, or most of the time people and we sit down and we we said, you know, hey, look, you know, that cell phone is a really good condition. And that cell phone has not been out there since all this happened. There's no way no how you know, when I talk and I said, you know, it's kind of strange that that your investigator calls this search.
And lo and behold, 15 minutes after the where he starts his search, cell phones found in the bar, which I said, isn't that strange? And that's all I said. And then Klein wrote you a letter saying you wrote this this God awful, stupid letter to me about know accusing him of doing this and that.
I called Klein and had him read me a portion of that letter.
I put a paragraph in the letter, which, by the way, was copied to everybody in law enforcement that was involved in the case. I put a Subedar called your suggestion that we planted evidence and this is what I said to him in my 27 year career. I have never had anyone, especially Ashira, suggest to my clients that I planted evidence for you even to put that out there to anyone and to suggest that our hardworking team may have had an ulterior motive in organizing a search and then planting the evidence is disgusting.
You, sir, my team an apology and you owe my clients an apology.
In his letter, Klein had an intriguing question for Lewis and ask yourself this question. How would anybody on my team get the phone question mark and plan it to be found? Question mark.
So what was the answer? How could Klein have come into possession of Tom's phone when he wasn't even in Canadian when Tom disappeared?
Well, Lewis said that's a question I should really ask Tom's mother, Penny Meek.
According to Lewis, a few weeks after Tom's disappearance, Penny had done something he found peculiar. She had texted Caleb King's mother, Robin, and asked if calaboose friends knew the four digit password to Tom's iPhone.
The way that that went down was Robin King told us at the office and came by and gave us a copy of a screenshot, printed them out of pinny, asking her for the passcode. Robin said, I don't I don't know the passcode. And Penny says, I will use Caleb to try to find the passcode for me. Ask him, ask his friends, what would you need a passcode for? You don't need a passcode unless you have a phone.
So why would she want no password?
Klap contacted me and asked me if I had the four digit four digit passcode to Thomas's phone. This is Penny.
She told me she had received a call from Brent Klap, Lewis's chief deputy.
He wanted to know the password and I was kind of irritated with them because I just didn't feel I was frustrated and I just didn't feel like they were doing a lot.
And so I said, I've already told you that I don't I don't know passwords. I don't know any of these passwords. Not to his cloud, not to iTunes. I don't know any of it. And I said, why do you need the four digit passcode to his phone? Well, we're just trying to tie up loose ends. And I thought you just you don't need them. And so I just said, well, I don't have it.
So we I hung up and then I thought, OK, I'm going to make an effort to try.
I mean, I don't know why we need it, but I'll make an effort to try to find some kind of password for them. So I text Caleb's mom, Robin.
I said, would you ask Caleb one more time to ask his friends if they know any of his passwords or to his passcode to his phone or anything?
So Caleb sends out a text, all of his friends, Robin King wouldn't talk to me for this story, but I emailed Klap and asked what he remembered. He wrote that he had never asked Penny for the passcode. I went back to Penny. I asked if it was possible someone else in the sheriff's department had called her about the passcode. No, she said she was certain she had spoken to Clamp either. Klapper Penny, of course, could have easily confused the details of a conversation that took place nearly four years ago.
But Luis told me he was convinced Penny was not telling the truth.
All right. For the hundredth time, explain the passcode. She says that she's a liar. She says that your chief deputy klap called her up to ask for Tom's passcode to a cell phone.
The first thing she said was that I was asking for the passcode and I'm the one that told her to find the passcode because I needed it. Then it changed to Declan and then it changed to the Texas Rangers. So who is it? Who asked for the passcode? She she says it was me. Then she says it was crap. And then she said it was the Texas Rangers. Well, what story? What story is it? You know, I'm telling you, her stories change all the time, you know, which is it?
Lewis speculated that Penny had contacted Caleb's mother, Robin, in hopes of getting the passcode because she did have Tom's phone and maybe she wanted the passcode so she could turn on his phone, read his text messages and look through his call history. But if Penny did have the phone, how did she get it? Had she seen her son that Thanksgiving eve, had he perhaps driven to the house to talk to her? And had she taken the phone from Tom before he disappeared?
Such a scenario was plausible, but it seemed highly unlikely because a penny was hiding something about Tom's disappearance. Why would she bring in a private investigator to look into the matter and potentially expose her? Well, Lewis had an answer for that, too, so class not going to investigate her. She's paying him. So she's going to go off what she what he what she told him. And you hire a private investigator, you're hiring her for money.
And when you hire somebody for money, they're working for you and they're going to listen to what you say and do what you want them to do.
Of course, I called Klein to let him know what Lewis had said.
Gee, that's funny. That has got to be one of the most stupid and asinine comments that I've ever heard in my entire life. If you know anything about us, the first thing we tell the family is, hey, guys, if you're involved, you're going to be pointed out. You know, I just think it's stupid when stupid people say things like that. This year has got to be one of the worst law enforcement officers I have ever met, ever dealt with and ever have had to deal with in my entire 31 year career.
And don't forget, the penny also had called that press conference in July twenty seventeen, where she asked that the sheriff's department be removed from the case. She said she wanted more experienced law enforcement officers with better resources to be brought in to find her son. And in January 2013, just after Tom's phone was identified, Pinny took further action. She and other members of the Moms for Tom Facebook group posted an online petition demanding that the Texas attorney general's office take over the investigation.
The petition went online at two thirty on a Thursday afternoon. The next day, more than 1400 people had signed it. That's twice the population of Canadian. Shortly after Penny posted her petition, Sheriff Lewis made a surprise announcement. He said that he would be just fine with the state attorney general's office taking over.
When I sit down with my chief deputy and we discussed it. We both came to the conclusion that this is going to be a good thing. So let's just do it. And so we wrote a letter to the attorney general asking them to get involved and help us take over this case and so we can get to the bottom of it because we were tired of all the he said she said bullcrap and all the Facebook crap. We decided to be a good thing to hand it over to.
You know, finally we get somebody in here, they can see through the bullshit and actually investigate us a fantastic this great day, which I'll need to do. One month later, in February, the attorney general's criminal unit sent word that two of its veteran investigators, Sergeant Rachel Kaeding and Sergeant Chris Smith, had been assigned to the Tom Brown case when Cadigan Smith arrived in Canadian, they studied the sheriff's department reports they stayed up an entire night downloading the department's digital files, including call records, photos and videos.
They interviewed residents all over town, and it did not take them long to conclude that someone was not telling the truth. The investigators came up with a short list of people they wanted to put on the box. That's detective parlance for a lie detector test. Sheriff Lewis was on the list. So was Phillip Klein. But at the top of the list was Tom's mother. The investigation into Tom's disappearance was about to take yet another turn. Next week on Tom Brown's body, then she teared up and then she said, well, this is heartbreaking.
And I said, Yeah, I said it is. And and then they kept saying that I knew where the body was. I knew what happened, that I could move the body. Tom Brown's body is a Texas Monthly production executive producer is Megan Krait, produced and engineered by Brian Standiford, who also wrote the music. Jaquet Neko is our editor and Paul Knight is our fact checker. Audio assistants are Sean Cronin and Imogene Hopper. Our theme music is No Hard Feelings by The Avett Brothers.
I'm your writer and host Skip Hollandsworth. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple podcast. Thanks for listening. See you next week.