Always having had an infatuation with everything related to forensic science, court cases, crimes and law enforcement, I watch all the television shows that pertain to it in any way.
My husband does not share my interest in such shows, he prefers American Pickers, Pawn Shop and the History Channel which is why we have more than one television in the house.
I enjoy all three CSI shows, both NCIS, Southland, Criminal Minds, Law and Order and Blue Bloods to name just a few.
Patricia Cornwell is my favorite author and as I read each of her books, I place myself in the laboratory of Kay Sparketta, her forensic expert.
Because of this interest, you can imagine my excitement when I learned that one of the members to join our church this past year (Lake Wateree Presbyterian, U.S.A.) is a retired agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
What interesting stories I knew he would have.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation originated from a force of special agents created in 1908 by then Attorney General Charles Bonaparte during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.
Bonaparte was responsible for creating a corps of special agents from the Department of Justice. These former detectives and secret service men were the forerunners of the FBI.
The establishment of this kind of agency at a national level was very controversial because for many years it was thought that it was up to the states to fulfill government responsibilities.
The Department of Justice under Bonaparte had no investigators except a few special agents and examiners. Since its beginning in 1870, this department used its funds to investigate federal crimes by hiring detectives and investigators from other federal agencies, later calling on secret service operatives.
This proved to be very expensive and so in May of 1908 a law was passed preventing the Department of Justice from engaging secret service personnel. Ten former secret service investigators became special agents and on March 16, 1909, George Wickersham, Bonaparte’s successor, named the organization Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In the next few years the agents grew in number to more than 300. In those years there were fewer federal crimes and so the FBI was investigating national banking, bankruptcy, naturalization, antitrust and land fraud.
Later, they investigated such crimes as transporting women over state lines for immoral purposes and with the entry of the United States into world war II came espionage and acts of sabotage. By 1921 the lawless years brought about the gangster activities and prohibition.
J. Edgar Hoover at the age of 26 became the assistant director of the FBI and three years later was named its director.
At that time the bureau had grown to 650 employees of which 441 were special agents. Hoover headed the agency from 1924 until his death in 1972 at the age of 77 years.
I was quite sure Brown had lived an exciting life and had many experiences that he could share and that is why I chose him as a person-of-interest.
His full name is Thomas H. Brown. He was born in Miami, Florida as the middle child of three boys.
His father Gordon was with Eastern Airlines so the family moved around considerably.
His mother Tommi Grace was a homemaker. His siblings include Gordon who lives in Long Beach, Calif. and Robert living in Winston Salem, N.C.
Brown attended R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston Salem, graduated from the University of North Carolina and attended law school at Lake Forest where he earned a B.A. in political science and economics.
He received his law degree in 1969.
When a FBI agent came to talk to his class during his last year at law school, Brown found the prospect very interesting and decided to become an agent rather than a lawyer for JAG.
His 16 week training took place at Quantico and he became a FBI agent.
Brown met Phyllis Dunham while in high school and they married in June of 1968. Phyllis oversaw all programs for handicapped children at the Winston Salem recreation department.
She taught physical education for 17 years before becoming an instructional technology specialist until her retirement in 2004. She continues part-time work as an ITS at Spears Creek Road Child Development.
The couple was blessed with two daughters, Meredith Leigh and Nancy Grace. Their grandchildren include William, Hunter and Thomas Halliday and Adam and Allison Orman. The Browns are members of the Lake Wateree Presbyterian Church.
The family lived in San Diego, California, San Antonio and Fort Hood, Texas between the years 1969 to 1975.
Brown joined the bureau in 1969 where he stayed until his retirement in 1993. He then joined the Stone Container Paper Company as manager of corporate security until 1999.
He became a SLED agent for the Attorney General’s office from 1999 to 2005 and then worked part-time on cases until 2007.
He worked on criminal cases for the better part of his career, mostly bank robberies, kidnappings and public corruption. Brown was also a legal instructor for the bureau, a hostage negotiator and a principal firearms instructor.
I asked Brown if any cases held a particular interest for him and he mentioned the Larry Gene Bell case of 1985.
Many of you will remember this one since it took place in the Columbia area. Larry Bell was a double murderer in Lexington County. He kidnapped a 17 year old and a 10 year old and killed both girls.
It was the largest manhunt in South Carolina. Bell made eight phone calls to the girl’s family, taunting them and giving directions to the whereabouts of the bodies.
It was an indentation of a telephone number on a scratch pad and the help of the telephone company that led to the capture and arrest of Bell. He was tried and executed.
Another notable case special to Agent Brown was the Lost Trust case from 1989 to 1991, when more than 20 legislators were put in jail for bribery.
These state legislators were investigated by the FBI and indicted by a federal grand jury. It was the worst case of State House corruption at that time.
Now, in 2012 the FBI has grown to more than 8,000 agents.
Tom and Phyllis lived in Blythewood from 1995 to 2010 and at that time they rebuilt a home on the Lake Wateree property they had since 1984 and moved full time to the lake.
This is a very interesting man and I truly enjoyed our interview.