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[00:00:00]

This episode of Tom Brown's body is brought to you by a 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 Law of Innocence, Michael Connelly's newest Lincoln Lawyer novel available today wherever books are sold. Hey, everyone, a quick note, this episode contains specific descriptions of suicide, it may be disturbing for some listeners. I was on the way to Amarillo when this happened and going to watch Baby Doctor and we're almost a Pamplin, I get a phone call for Powerwall and I said hello and he is panicked.

[00:00:51]

This is Sheriff Nathan Lewis talking about a phone call he got from Deputy Pine Gregory on January 9th, 2019. And I'm like, whoa, don't look at my first thought was this Beninese just rolled his patrol car. I mean, something's going on. And he said, dude, I found a skull and I'm like, home. Are you kidding me?

[00:01:12]

It had been two years and two months since Tom Brown went missing from the town of Canadian. And Gregory had just come across a human skull while looking for deer antlers near the end of Lake Marvin's Road.

[00:01:24]

I said, man, we got to turn around. I got to go. And so I went back to town. And the whole time my wife and I were praying about it because in this case, this whole thing's been so wild for us. And and so the whole time I'm thinking this is our answer. This is that we're finally going to get a resolve on this deal, that this thing's coming to an end. Little did I know was the beginning of a of not an end.

[00:01:50]

Soon, a team of law enforcement officers arrived to search the area in addition to the skull, they found the femur and several smaller bones, a pair of tennis shoes, some remnants of blue jeans and part of a Texas driver's license. The license looked like it had been chewed on by an animal. The officers were barely able to make out the name Thomas Kelly Brown.

[00:02:14]

Finally, Tom Brown's remains were accounted for. But Sheriff Lewis was right. The investigation into Tom's death was only getting started. From Texas Monthly, I'm Skip Hollandsworth. This is Tom Brown's body episode seven, The Wake. The news that Canadian like a clap of thunder in that week's Canadian record, editor Laurie Brown ran a one word headline in seventy two point type that read found residents drove out to like Marvin's road to take photos. Tom's memorial was held at the Canadian high school gym.

[00:03:02]

The only place in town large enough to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend. Of course, the local media were there to cover it.

[00:03:10]

The community of Canadian gathered today to celebrate the life of Thomas Brown. This comes after his remains were discovered in Hemphill County almost three weeks ago.

[00:03:21]

The members of Tom's senior class were honorary pallbearers. Many of those who were involved in Tom's case were also there, including Phillip Klein, the private investigator working for Tom's mother.

[00:03:31]

Penny Penny's ex-husband, Kelly Brown wasn't exactly pleased with Klein's conduct that day because he was walking around shaking hands with people and telling people, my family, for instance, that that had never met him. He spelled out I'm the lead investigator on the Tom Brown case. I care to share partly you're going to make I'm a Christian and I'll ask God for forgiveness and I'll ask you for forgiveness. But you're going to have to forgive me. And I'll tell you, he's a piece of work.

[00:04:09]

He's a he's a piece of something else, too. Once everyone took their seats, Tom's youth pastor, Corey Campbell, gave a eulogy. He described Tom as one in a million. At the reception afterwards, Tom's friends shared stories about him with the reporters out going, oh, he was a comedian.

[00:04:31]

He always knew how to make you laugh or just how to make you feel better. If you were sad and he was just a really good friend to all, even if you barely knew him. Tom was more of my study partner. He helped me in school. He was just an uplifting person to me. When I was feeling down, he'd come around and be like, Hey, Aaron, you can do this. Just hold your head up and get up and get the job done.

[00:04:56]

The word closure was used a lot today. However, Thomas's mother, Penny Meek, says she's full of questions. I think anybody that's lost a child will tell you how hard it is to lose a child. But I've said it before. We stand on faith. And Thomas was faithful. We made church a priority. And so there's no doubt in my mind where he is and he's just gone ahead of us. And we'll we'll get there someday and we'll see him again.

[00:05:24]

To try and get answers to her questions, Penny riped Phillip Klein's contract, she remained a big believer in Klein. Here she is on Chris Sample's radio show.

[00:05:34]

One of the ways to get this solved is to keep Mr. Klein and his team involved because they have been on this case since day five. So they know the case inside and out. And I feel confident in him. And I feel like he has a good working relationship with the AG's office and their investigators.

[00:05:55]

Klein promptly gave interviews to the media, warning residents that a killer was still on the loose. He even hinted that Tom's killer could have been at the memorial. He talked more about his investigation to Chris samples.

[00:06:08]

Well, there's some stuff I can't share with you that's moving forward very quickly. Let's just kind of go through it a little bit. Our team has completed its initial review of the case. Sometimes you get a miss some things, and we wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything. So probably the most important thing that we have going is, is that there were two interviews that we had conducted during the course and scope of trying to find Tom. And there were some nuggets in there that we kind of ignored because we were in the focus of trying to find Tom.

[00:06:39]

But they did give us a good layout of what we thought all along had happened.

[00:06:45]

But was Klein really on the trail of something big by now? There had been investigations by four law enforcement agencies, the sheriff's department, the Texas Rangers, the FBI and the state attorney general's office. Yet very little was still known about what had happened to Tom. Here's what the officers knew for sure, that Tom had gone cruising with his friends on Thanksgiving eve in 2016, that his mother, Penny, had called the sheriff's department late that night to report that Tom was missing and that his red Dodge Durango had been found shortly after sunrise near the town's water treatment plant.

[00:07:21]

They knew Tom's backpack was found two months later in January 2017, about a third of the way down the 12 mile long Lake Marvin Road, northeast of town. And they knew that Tom's iPhone was found in pristine condition nine months after that, right where like Marvin's road began and now Tom's remains had been discovered near the very end of Lake Marvin's Road. But even his remains didn't provide any real clues. There were no fractures or bullet wounds in the skull or bones.

[00:07:52]

There wasn't enough of his body left to perform conclusive toxicology tests. Given the lack of evidence, you can probably guess what happened next. The speculation went into overdrive. It seemed that everyone in town had a theory about Tom's demise. Web sleuths from around the country also chimed in, offering their theories on their Facebook pages and blogs.

[00:08:18]

But Thomas hurt. Nobody hurt.

[00:08:22]

And then there was this man, Kevin Brown, who's no relation to Tom. He's the 43 year old Amarilla truck driver who calls himself the Ghost Whisperer.

[00:08:32]

There's rumors going around that you were having sex as a male homosexual sex with the sheriff.

[00:08:40]

Kevin Brown posted a series of dimly lit videos of himself sitting or lying on his bed, holding what he called his spirit box. It's a contraption the size of his palm that makes this horrific screeching sound. The machine can supposedly communicate with Tom in the afterlife. Here's another clip from release. I'm in his office, I heard you say, are you getting in his videos, The Ghost Whisperer claim that Tom's voice could be heard vaguely in the background.

[00:09:16]

In one video, the Voice said he had been cut into pieces. It might be tempting to laugh at this sort of thing, but the escalating hysteria around the case was affecting people's actual lives in devastating ways.

[00:09:30]

How long did it take before the rumors got started? The justice had something to do with Tom Brown's death. It was almost immediate. People started assuming and they were all over Facebook.

[00:09:46]

This is Shannon Castletown, an artist and the owner of a yoga studio and Canadian. You might remember her from an earlier episode. She's the mother of Michael Hasseltine, one of the two teenagers who had gone cruising with Tom early on Thanksgiving eve. Shannon's husband, Jeff, was a friendly, well-liked Canadian elementary school teacher. Almost two weeks after Tom's remains were discovered. Jeff was found in his car at the rodeo grounds, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

[00:10:16]

A lot of people in town jump to conclusions linking Jeff's death to the discovery of Tom's remains.

[00:10:23]

What was the story that people were trying to pass off as to the reason they have committed suicide? Is it Tom? Well, they tried to cover up Michael's involvement in Tom's death. I guess what I heard a lot of different things. I mean, I heard that somehow he had something to do with it and. Yes. And that Michael had something to do with it. And he was covering it up. And I've been told that people have seen me out, dig and dig in great graves and had a shovel in my hand out it like Marvin.

[00:11:01]

I've heard, you know, that Michael was somehow connected to and was Nathan's drug informant or something, you know, and it's just this bizarre.

[00:11:18]

The most outlandish rumor was one that Shannon could not bring herself to tell me people were actually speculating that Jeff had been having a secret romantic relationship with Tom and that Michael had found out and murdered Tom. Then they said the discovery of Tom's remains had made Jeff so inconsolable that he took his own life. Shannon also said there was talk on Chris Sample's radio show that Jeff put in the suicide note that Tom Brown's death and investigation has been very hard on his family.

[00:11:55]

And that was a complete and total lie. Suzanne says the suicide, no, nothing. No, no, of course not. It's a goodbye to his family.

[00:12:08]

Yes, the first time I talked to Shannon, she told me she did not want to talk about her husband's suicide. But later she changed her mind. She felt it was important for people to know what Jeff was going through. That underneath his outgoing personality was a man tormented by mental illness.

[00:12:26]

So your husband had issues with depression or bipolar disorder for a while? Yes. You know, and and it runs in his family. And unfortunately, it's very strong in his family and mental health issues with bipolar and. And so he's been on medication. And have been treated for that since probably the year 2000. So 20 years, but still even on medication, he would have to have issues, even though it kept him honestly, there's probably wasn't a day that didn't go by that he didn't make some mention.

[00:13:11]

That he wished that the end of the world would come and Jesus would come back, so he didn't have to live another day on this or. I mean, for twenty five years, I bet I heard that at least five times a week. And no matter good times or bad times, he did not like this world. This was not his world. I mean, it was just he says this world is just too painful and dark, and I used to get mad at him because I'd be like, that's just like slapping God in the face.

[00:13:41]

And it's like saying, you know what? Who cares about my life or my kids, you know? And he's like, well, you guys are the only reason I'm here. And he always said, Michael, it was Michael, Michael, Michael is the one that he kept him here the longest because he was afraid he would follow his footsteps. And in January of 2000, team did something happen that led him to decide to kill himself. Well, Jeff also suffered from asthma.

[00:14:14]

He had asthma since he was a child who was born with it, so he had trouble breathing. And was also treated to that starting back in September of that next school year, which was meant and 19, he got really sick and he stayed sick and it just got worse and worse and worse. He kept telling me, he said, I feel like I'm drowning so I cannot breathe and I feel like I'm drowning. It got to the point where Jeff could not even go for a walk with Shannon and, you know, he he he would say, I'm not going to go out like that.

[00:14:52]

I'm not going to live the rest of my life like that. One night in January, twenty nineteen, he came home extremely upset. He just said, I can't even workout, my muscles will not work, they just won't work. The next day, Jeff went to the elementary school to teach, as usual, and at lunchtime he came home. And I was home and he was very upset, and then I said, I know, I said we just need to go talk to somebody.

[00:15:24]

Let's just go right now. We'll just go to Amarillo. And he said, no, my kids are waiting on me at school. But he didn't go back to school. The last thing you said was, I love you standing outside. And that was the last time I talked to. It's difficult enough for a wife and son to have to deal with such a tragedy, but when rumors allege that suicide was linked to Tom's case, the Castletown family was traumatized again and again.

[00:15:56]

It's in on Michael. Yes, well, he just says, you know, I mean, now that he's trying to get his shit together more and he's gone back to school and it's just that we're we're hanging in there, you know? I mean, and he's getting help. But, you know, this stuff with Tom, he's like he's so distrusting of people because he he really he's been you know, he's been targeted from the very beginning, but he's just like, this is going to follow me the rest of my life.

[00:16:29]

Never going to go away. Never going to go away. He's like, you Google my name and it comes up Tom Brown and Jeff Castletown suicide. And it's just so sad.

[00:16:42]

Any time one strand of gossip dwindled, others seem to crop up in its place. Christian Web and Caleb Keane, the other teenagers who had gone cruising with Tom, made several return appearances on the gossip mill. One evening, I stopped into the local stumbling goat saloon in a slightly drunk guy, poked me in the arm and insisted that Kristen and Caleb were stone cold killers. Christian did her best to ignore the gossip, but in her apartment near the Oklahoma State University campus, she spent a lot of sleepless nights trying to come up with the name of anyone who could have heard her friend.

[00:17:18]

Some nights she wondered if Tom might have hurt himself. She, the daughter, his encyclopedic knowledge of music and movies, his goofy imitations of professional wrestlers, and his devotion to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. His friends joked that he was the only boy in the Panhandle who was a fan of the Patriots. But Christian also knew that Tom didn't reveal everything he was dealing with.

[00:17:44]

I think that Tom hid his secrets very well. He wore a mask a lot of the time, and I don't think a lot of people knew the real him. Matty and here from Texas Monthly, we are excited to tell you about murder book, the popular True Crime podcast hosted by best selling author Michael Connelly, The New Season, a murder book podcast is here. Season two investigates the most prolific serial killer in American history. Sam Little and the women who helped take him down after avoiding punishment for four decades.

[00:18:20]

The story of Sam Little is thrilling and equally as thrilling as Connollys new novel, The Loss of Innocence. The suspense thriller follows Mickey Hailer as he's framed for murder and fights to defend his innocence for a crime he didn't commit.

[00:18:33]

It's pretty wild. Man and I were lucky enough to get an advance copy of the Law of Innocence, and it's already captured my attention. Instead of binge watching Netflix, I'll be binge reading this book.

[00:18:42]

I just finished the first chapter and I love the character of Mickey Hayler. I'm excited to keep reading because I was hooked from the beginning. So be sure to read The Law of Innocence, a new Lincoln Lawyer novel featuring Mickey Hayler available today. You can purchase the law of innocence wherever books are sold. Also, be sure to check out season two of Michael Connelly's podcast murder book Wherever you get your podcast or a murder book. Podcast Dotcom. That's Murder Book Podcast Dotcom.

[00:19:10]

Thank you for supporting Tom Brown's body. That fall in 2016, Tom had been going through a lot, he had quit the football team, he had broken up with his girlfriend, he had told some friends he was anxious about where he should go to college. And he had also confessed to a few girls, including Christian, that he occasionally wore adult diapers. One night, Christian got to thinking about the two Avett Brothers songs that Tom had asked her to play while they were Cruise Canadian that Thanksgiving Eve.

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At the time, Christian hadn't paid much attention to the lyrics. But now she got to wondering whether those songs contain some hidden meaning the Tom had wanted to share with her.

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I just kind of got this recurring memory of us listening to it. And I was like, I I should go back and listen to that and really, you know, think about what it means. She pulled up the songs on her phone. First she listened to Live and Die, Live like a Pharaoh, sing like a sparrow and. Anyway, then she played no hard feelings, one of The Avett Brothers most popular songs, and it kind of hit me up.

[00:20:31]

What that what that song was really about and it's about just moving on. When my body won't hold me anymore and it finally. That's my free. Just for giving all of your enemies and everyone has wronged you. And just stepping away from from all of the kind of bad stuff. When the jealousy fades away and a. And danced for cash and lost. And it's just hallelujah. Did you interpret the song as some music critics have, as an attempt to make peace with dying love in the songs they sing in the church?

[00:21:26]

I did a little bit. Yes, sir.

[00:21:27]

And no. But even so, Christian still wasn't sure what to make of it, like all the music and his what seemed like a sad goodbye could have been a coincidence. I mean, we are all notorious for listening to sad music all the time. And to me, the evidence just doesn't add up to him killing himself.

[00:21:59]

When you say the evidence doesn't make sense that he committed suicide. What do you mean in particular?

[00:22:06]

It's mostly about how scattered everything is from where his car was parked, to where his phone was found, his backpack, his body. It was there's just no way all that evidence could have been thrown and all those locations if he killed himself. But that doesn't make sense, especially with where his body was found. That's way too far for him to have wanted to walk to, you know, just kill himself. Christian makes an important point if Tom had parked his car at the water treatment plant, then walked to the spot on Lake Marvin's road where his backpack was found, and then walked on down the road to the thicket of cottonwood trees where his remains were later found, that journey would have totaled roughly 12 miles.

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I don't think there was a point in walking that far. If you were going to do that, I don't know why you wouldn't just you know, if you're going to do it, just do it where you are.

[00:23:17]

Some Canadian residents speculated that Tom might have been trying to reach the campsite near Lake Marvin, where Penny's father, Tom's grandfather, shot himself in 1998. Perhaps Tom had decided to die there at a place where he might feel some solace. Perhaps he'd gotten tired by the time he reached the cottonwood trees, which were still five miles away from the campsite, and he had ended his life there instead. Or maybe he had been attacked and killed by wild hogs.

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When I brought up this scenario with Penny, she told me she'd never talk to Tom or to her older son, Tucker, about their grandfather's death. She said councillors had advised against telling her kids those kind of details. In her private investigator, Klein scoffed at any theories involving suicide, he called them The Days of Our Lives theories.

[00:24:09]

All we wanted to do was come through and say, look at this poor boy. He was so suicidal, his family in suicide, he broke up with his girlfriend. He left the football team and we all just shook her head. The facts are you have a young man that is that is a that is still in that world, a young man that was everybody's friend, a young man, which which there's no other way to describe it, which is he's president of the student council.

[00:24:40]

He's popular. He's he's in the drama club. And equal to all of that, he had made plans for that entire weekend. That's not a it's killing himself. It's a crack. Meanwhile, months had passed since anyone had heard from the two sergeants from the Texas attorney general's office, Rachel Keating and Chris Smith had taken over the case in early twenty eighteen, and they refused to make any details of their investigation public. Much of the time they were in their offices in Austin working simultaneously on their other cases.

[00:25:16]

Pinny rarely spoke to them, but she did talk to Chris samples a couple of times for his radio show as Mom Pene does.

[00:25:24]

Finding his remains and knowing for sure now that he's in his heavenly home help you sleep any better at night. Not really, because I want to know what happened once the remains were found, I had some people say, well, you have closure. Well, we really don't have closure. We have one answer. We have answered where Thomas is. We know that he's no longer living. So that is one answer. But there's more questions now, I think, since he has been found.

[00:25:58]

Yes. So obviously, the attorney general's office is very, very tight lipped, as they have in recent months, taking taking this investigation over you. And I talked several months ago and began here. And let's begin there again. Are you hearing anything from them on the status of this investigation?

[00:26:23]

You know, I really intended to reach out to the investigators, and I just I really haven't gotten it done yet. You know, I try not to bother them that much because I know they're working and I want them to work. And so I try not to, you know, inundate them with questions. But it is time for it's probably past time for an update. And I would like one if they can give me one, whatever that is.

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The update finally came in August, twenty nineteen seven months after Tom's remains were found, Keating and Smith called an invitation only meeting at the county offices in the nearby panhandle town of Pampa. One person who was there secretly taped the gathering at the beginning of the meeting.

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Everyone introduced themselves for Nathan Lewis, Sheriff Hemphill County, Mike Smith, Tex Pinny, her husband Chris, her older son Tucker, and a couple of her mom's four.

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Tom friends were also there and showed up with Jane Holmes, the private investigator from Georgia, whom Klein had hired to do interviews. The Hemphill County district attorney and one of his assistants was there. Tom's father, Kelly Brown, brought along his pastor.

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I'm Kevin Brenton. I am his pastor and one in virtually the entire congregation like Keating and Smith, begin by telling everyone that they would be releasing a statement to the news media about their investigation.

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Kading read from that statement.

[00:27:59]

This joint statement is regarding the investigation into the disappearance of Thomas Kelly Brown. This release is being made to attempt to correct the significant amount of misinformation has been exchanged publicly indicating then briefly reviewed the history of the case before reaching this conclusion.

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There is no viable evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that foul play led to the death of Thomas Kelly Brown. Therefore, this investigation has been suspended pending any new, discoverable, credible evidence. The investigation, she said, was being suspended. One of the attendees at the meeting later told me that the air went out of the room. No one was expecting this announcement. Not only did Keating and Smith declare they had no viable evidence that Tom had been murdered, they said they hadn't come up with any evidence that he had killed himself or that he had died in an accident.

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We don't have enough evidence to make a determination. And he died. Somehow he could have died from natural causes. For all we know, we don't know. And we have no cause and no manner of death here. Therefore, we have nothing to base in. The investigators did say there was one new piece of information they had discovered they had sent Tom's phone to another lab and technicians there had found that at around nine forty five pm on Thanksgiving Eve, while Tom was cruising with Christian and Caleb, he had used his phones Internet browser to search the phrase suicide hotlines.

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But Keating and Smith said there was no evidence that Tom had called any of those numbers. Keating then opened up the meeting to questions, but she first issued a warning. This is going to be a civilized discussion now that there's not going to be pointing fingers or making allegations against people in here.

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One of the moms for Tom members spoke up. She wanted to know if Keating and Smith truly had no idea what had happened to Tom.

[00:29:59]

I mean, besides all the investigations and you have to do where she was, she was that is that what you really think? Is that know I know that we don't have the luxury to work in kind of conjecture and whatever I can just throw out and whatever sticks that doesn't that's not doesn't work for us. So we've got to have tangible things that we can look at. There are items of evidence that, you know, are unexplained. You know, we can't we can't answer that question.

[00:30:33]

I wish we could. But I found in all of the cases I've worked in all my years, there's always things I can't answer.

[00:30:41]

Everyone had more questions. Penny asked the investigators to confirm that Tom and not killed himself.

[00:30:47]

So, again, just for clarification, it is not a suicide. You're not making any ruling on that. So Paul Bremer's about suicide can be dispelled. We don't have enough evidence to make a determination. And this dispels a homicide. That correct?

[00:31:08]

That's Nathan Lewis. Now, what this does says we do not have evidence that leads one way or another.

[00:31:16]

We do not have evidence that leans one way or another. Kading said she and Smith went on to say that they had not been able to come up with credible answers to some of the same questions that had long plagued Canadian residents. For example, the discovery of the unblemished phone remained a big question mark.

[00:31:34]

That's one of the pieces of evidence that can't be explained. You know, we agree it wasn't something out there. Tom did not place that phone up there. We know that. But somebody who had knowledge of the search, which was a pretty finite group of people, had access to that phone out there, like Keating.

[00:31:54]

And Smith also took the time to dismiss many of the rumors that had spread through town.

[00:31:59]

I look at these numbers every single day to see what's been posted and what people are talking about, because it gets to the point where there's just so many conspiracies going on and it's this person or it's that person.

[00:32:12]

You know, they even address the woodchipper theory, which they said originated from stories told by meth addicts.

[00:32:19]

And we spent months and months just on this whole meth head theory because that's really what it is, a bunch of paranoid druggies that are telling each other different stuff. They're getting things out to different people. And then you hear it and you're OK. And you run over here and I'm going to call that not on Facebook. I'm going to call this person. I'm going to do. And it did nothing but take away from our investigation to Sheriff Lewis's relief.

[00:32:44]

The investigators did say they had found no evidence the sheriff's office was involved in Tom's disappearance or death or other spent about 28 hours conducting a search of the sheriff's office, forensically dumps computers, searched offices, search desk drawers, closets. Twenty hours straight. We basically shut the sheriff's office down. And there is nothing that has turned up forensically in that search, you know, so we have no indication which sheriff's office was involved.

[00:33:15]

Keating and Smith actually took a few shots at Klein's investigation. They criticized the luminol test conducted on Thomas Tarango. They said the test actually had picked up paint, not blood is clean, had claimed it turned out Tom had accidentally spilled the paint inside the vehicle. A few months before he disappeared, Kline fired back.

[00:33:35]

And for the record, we they sweet we disagreed on that the whole way and we still disagreed at this time. But Keating and Smith said the only blood in the Durango was the tiny smear that Sheriff Lewis had found on the driver's door. The investigators then went after Klein's theory that Tom's killer, not Tom, was driving the Durango up and down the streets of Canadian the night he disappeared. Smith said the killers sometimes drive their victims cars in big cities.

[00:34:04]

But in small town Texas, where everybody knows everybody's vehicle, that didn't make any sense. And the investigators also debunked Klein's claim that Tom's final cell phone pings placed him near the high school football stadium around midnight on Thanksgiving eve. Keating, as Smith explained, there were not enough cell phone towers around Canadian to accurately triangulate anyone's location.

[00:34:29]

And you could be at one end of Canadian. Your phone could have been hanging on the tower in the north, you know, so it doesn't it's actually not very helpful. Tom's dad, Kelly, took his own shot at Klein, telling everyone at the meeting that Klein had told Pinny that Sheriff Lewis had something to do with Tom's death.

[00:34:47]

I'm trying desperately to remember what she said to begin with. But that same day that I'm referring to that, she looked me on October 19 percent. Sure. You also said that you knew he did. He felt like he did. And I said, I heard you say that, OK? I didn't say. What I said was there were too many anomalies going on. And then I was concerned with law enforcement at the time. I never said that.

[00:35:17]

That's what I said. I think Rachel specifically said to the city, that's Tom's brother Tucker, cautioning his father to stay calm.

[00:35:26]

Oh, well, son, I'm talk to everybody, not just here. Look at me. I will talk to play staff, everybody. The meeting ran for nearly two hours, at one point, the conversation turned to the two Justice for Tom signs erected on the empty lot on Main Street. Those are the ones that say there is a killer among us. Please pray that Tom's killer is brought to justice. Now that the attorney general's investigators were finished with their work and headed home.

[00:35:56]

Some people at the meeting wondered if it was time for the signs to come down to. The conversation quickly got heated.

[00:36:02]

Well, if we're going to begin healing, I guess we and I, I think now would be the time that we could all come together and figure out what these signs need to say to remember Thomas. I'm sorry. I like. Are you going to forget him because there's not a sign in your yard? No, no. I mean, I don't. I know. But I need that. I know that's not what you mean, but I saw very clearly that if there are still chips that need to come in.

[00:36:32]

So let me let me address something for you to go on.

[00:36:35]

This is the county's district attorney, Franklin McDonough. Here's the problem. This is a young man whose life is gone. Whether we understand why or don't, we're not going to make somebody a criminal when the facts are not there. Here's a guy trying to talk. OK, OK, I that's why I ask about something better. That is exactly why I ask about something better. Have help me. I did not like this guy. So hated those times.

[00:37:11]

So it's a question of this. What, what they're saying here today is that the evidence doesn't discriminate.

[00:37:21]

Well, let me tell you what the criminal law is not about disproving. OK, you can ask Philip Klein, this criminal law is not about disproving evidence. Proves that case. Thank God. No, no, no, no, no, no. Addressing this issue like the criminal law does not disprove. I'm not going to disprove that you didn't do it. I'm going to take the evidence as it is. And I will only take the evidence as it is.

[00:37:53]

There is no evidence. And it's my understanding, Mr. Klein, as well as saying the same thing, there is no evidence of criminal activity. So so at some point, in respect for Tom, I mean, I man, we have to say, even though the result is not what we want out of respect for Tom alone, we're going to respect the evidence that Terry. At this point, Kelly's pastor intervened. You want to remember Tom Mann put up put up signs for your great football player, kid?

[00:38:32]

That's probably what I'm talking about. So let's let's put those signs up. Let's celebrate now, because, Tom. Yeah. So some make up signs that altered parts of his life. Great family. He went to church president junior senior year. So, yeah, my suggestion is you want to honor Tom and get those things made. And because my concern is with the idea that there's a possible suicide here, those signs are implicating Tom that is not honoring him.

[00:39:02]

So I don't know who made the signs, but I would say celebrate who was who is. One of the more moving moments of the meeting came when Thom's father, Kelly, once again addressed the group. He showed everyone a photo that had been taken earlier that morning, not far from his home in Periton, and he read from a note a friend had sent him.

[00:39:24]

I'm going to read this, senator, later. I'm going to walk out, if you'd like, while I'm reading it. But but I got this this morning from a friend mine. There was an Iranian president a little bit. So there was there was a rainbow. And I'll show you this picture if you'd like, but there's a rainbow there. And the guy says, this world is temporary and our future is eternal no matter what happens. Remember that Thomas is year old.

[00:39:56]

And this year we don't people forget that that was God that sent that to me. Whatever goodwill came from the meeting, it didn't last for very long. When the attorney general's press release went public, many Panhandle residents were incensed with Keating. And Smith, a former columnist for the Amarillo Globe, wrote on his Facebook page that the attorney general's office, quote, must think there's a whole lot of stupid in the Texas panhandle and that we hitched a ride up here on the first turnip truck to believe this absurd conclusion.

[00:40:36]

Salem Abraham, the hedge fund manager, was so disturbed by the attorney general's opinion that he even appeared on Chris Sample Show to offer his opinion.

[00:40:44]

I mean, I believe it's most likely that Tom was killed and I believe it was someone living in Canadian who did it. And I know people don't like those signs that talk about, well, there's a killer among us. But when you look at the facts and you see where Tom's body was and then where his car was left, those aren't places that people from out of town know about. I think those are places that locals know about. And that's why when people said, well, why do you think there's a killer amongst us?

[00:41:11]

And I said, well, I think when Tom died, there was a killer living here.

[00:41:16]

Pinny told reporters she was devastated. She said she felt like she was starting back at square one. And in response to Katie Smith's criticism, Klein doubled down on his claims that a homicide had occurred. He posted seven photos on his firm's Facebook page that showed what he described as patches of blood inside the Durango that had been illuminated by luminol. He explained to an Amarilla TV reporter why he was posting the photos.

[00:41:44]

Because we think it's time that, you know, all the conjecture stops and we start getting into hard facts and let the public know that this is not a suicide. There is something that happened that night and there's somebody that is responsible for this. And what about Sheriff Nathan Lewis? He said he was relieved by the meeting with Keating and Smith, finally it seemed his name had been cleared and things were going his way. But on November 15th, 12, 19, three months after the attorney general's announcement, Sheriff Lewis did something no one expected.

[00:42:21]

He resigned. In the final episode of Tom Brown's body, we believe one of his friends or one of his companions or one of his cohorts put the gun to the back of his head. We don't think the guy who had the gun thought the gun was loaded or had one in the chamber. They were just trying to scare. Tom Brown's body is a Texas Monthly production executive producer is Megan Krait, produced and engineered by Brian Sandefer, who also wrote the music.

[00:42:59]

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 podcasts. Thanks for listening. See you next week.