One of Brown Counties UNSOLVED MYSTERIES:
Lee and Lourena Brown Murder Mystery (written by Rhonda Dunn)
Lee and Lourena Brown Coroner’s Inquest
At an inquest a report is made by a coroner who examined the body and questioned witnesses to the event. There might also be witness statements from those that found the body, witnessed the person’s death, or was a witness to part of the day’s events involving the death. The report below was made by Joshua Bond the current presiding coroner for Brown County at that time. His report is based on his findings on the death of Lee and Lourena Brown.
“According to the evidence obtained from Chester Bunge, I find that Lourena Brown was wounded by pistol shot and that she was standing in the kitchen as he left the house and according to the position in which her body was found I could not determine whether she went to the basement or fell through the burning floor to the basement. I could not determine whether she died of pistol shot or fire.”
The two doctors that were present at the scene of the fire was Dr. M. T. VanDement and Dr. M. G. “Pat” Murphy. Their descriptions go into pretty graphic detail about the conditions of the bodies and how they determined the sex of each person found.
When the bodies were taken back out of their graves for a second autopsy in Indianapolis the findings were different from the first two doctors’ findings. The Brown County Coroner and the two local doctor’s stood by their initial findings that the two bodies were that of Lee and Lourena Brown and that Paul Brown’s body was not found.
Chester Bunge made a statement about his experience at the scene of the crime.
Also Frank L. Crews made a statement about his part in the events of that day.
“On Dec. 15th, 1930 about 12 o’clock noon our telephone rang . . . It was Mrs. Lee Brown calling and she asked, Is this Frank? and I answered yes. She then said, Come over here as quick as you can . . . I met Chester Bunge who had been working at Brown’s. He told me that Paul Brown had shot him twice and had also shot his father and mother. I took Chester home and telephoned Dr. Murphy, the sheriff and my nearest neighbor, Dan Allender. Before we got to the Brown’s house we saw the smoke coming from Paul Brown’s workshop.”
80 years later the final outcome remains a "Brown County Unsolved Mystery".
(Article written by Rhonda Dunn, and appeared in the Brown County Genealogical Society Newsletter, Fall 2010. Rhonda has written several local articles that have been later published by Indiana Genealogical Society publications.)