Family at ‘total loss’ for info on woman’s July murder

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Southfield – It’s been more than two months since Dominique Brown, 26, was fatally shot inside her vehicle on Interstate 94 at Livernois.

This is an artist's rendering of Dominique Brown. Crime Stoppers of Michigan is offering a cash reward of up to $3000 for information leading to the arrest in the murder of Dominique Brown.

Information has been hard to come by, both from official and unofficial sources. So on Thursday, at Crime Stoppers of Michigan’s Southfield headquarters, Brown’s mother and stepfather asked anyone who knows what happened the morning of July 30, including who fired the fatal shots, to come forward and call 800-SPEAK-UP and tell what they know.

“Moms, dads, you know what kind of animals you’ve raised,” said Brown’s mother, Bertha Matthews, 45, in a message directed at loved ones of the shooter or shooters. “Girlfriends, you know what kind of man you’re dealing with. If he did it to my daughter, he’d do it to you.”

It was 2:45 a.m., on eastbound I-94 at Livernois, when Brown and fellow rapper Ramell Campbell were shot inside Brown’s white Chrysler 200.

The two had briefly attended Detroit’s Cody High School at one point, and had connected recently to make rap music together, Matthews said. Dominique Brown went by the stage name of Domo Brown.

Six bullets hit Brown, including one that went through her heart and lungs, Matthews said. Another shot took off a hand that Brown had raised to defend herself.

Matthews and her husband, Julius, stepfather to Dominique, say the family remains at a “total loss” for details about what happened that morning.

Being in the dark is an “uncomfortable feeling” that “angers you,” said stepfather Julius Matthews, 40.

That discomfort started immediately. The Matthewses learned of Brown’s death not when police arrived at their door to make an official notification, but via Facebook.

Julius had been at his mother’s house when he learned from another one of their children that the man Brown had been seen with the previous night, Campbell, had been killed. No one had heard from her.

The family tried Brown’s cellphone number repeatedly. It never worked. Bertha Matthews logged on to Facebook. The first thing she saw was “RIP Dominique.”

Dominique Brown's step father, Julius Matthews, holds Brown's son, Diallo Motley, left, as Brown's mother, Bertha Matthews, holds Dominique's daughter, Denver Motley, right, as they addess the media.

Since Brown had been killed in Detroit, Matthews tried calling the Detroit Police Department. She had been killed on a freeway, so they learned Michigan State Police would handle the investigation.

Lt. Mike Shaw, a Michigan State Police spokesman, said the detective working the case has been in contact with the family within the last two weeks. State police are working "multiple leads" in the investigation, Shaw said.

Today, both parents have a suspicion that her budding rap career put Brown in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Dominique never rapped a day in her life growing up,” Bertha Matthews said.

It was only around last Christmas that she recorded her first rap song, a tribute to her sister who had died as a baby. In the three weeks before her death, Brown had found some success in music, making the cut for Friday Night Cypher on 107.5 FM.

“First time she told me about rap, I told her to rap her way back to work,” Matthews said.

Julius had his concerns, too, but the music made his stepdaughter happy and she was having some success doing it.

The night of her death, Brown had been seen at an Oak Park music studio and a Michigan Avenue night club with Campbell, Bertha said. What happened between leaving the club and when the Chrysler 200 was shot up, the family still doesn’t know.

The lack of closure and lack of details on the how and why of Brown’s death remains a concern. With Bertha holding Brown’s son Diallo, 4, and Julius holding her daughter Denver, 1, the family pleaded for tipsters to come forward with information. They’re splitting parenting time and duties for their grandchildren with Brown’s fiancé, Matthews said.

“I don’t know my daughter’s last words,” she said. “I don’t know what happened to her. But someone does.”

There is a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Another $1,000 is offered if the tip comes before Friday. Tipsters can leave information anonymously, with calls going to a center in Windsor that doesn’t have caller ID.

The family left the office in the hope that a fresh round of public attention would produce new leads or information that could provide justice and closure. They also left with hundreds of fliers, which they plan to distribute this weekend.

“I’d put (the flier) on a billboard if I could,” Matthews said.