Mom of slain WSU student: Police might know a suspect

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — The mother of a Wayne State University student found dead in October 2013 on the city's east side said Tuesday police have an idea who is responsible and are looking for tips to help make an arrest.

Crime Stoppers of Michigan held a press conference Tuesday to ask for tips in the killing of Tiane Brown, 33, a single mother, near the old Packard Plant. Brown was found just before 11 a.m. Oct. 30, strapped in the seat belt in her SUV.

The mother of three girls had been shot once in the head in what police believe was not a random killing.

"(The police) basically tell me that they have some ideas as far as who may have done it," Sheryl Jones, Brown's mother, said Tuesday during the press conference. "They don't have enough evidence to make an arrest so they're trying to get more evidence because it's too circumstantial right now."

Jones joined Crime Stoppers and several friends and family members to discuss a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Brown's parents reported her missing Oct. 29, 2013, the day before her body was found, when she failed to pick up her children at her parents' West Bloomfield Township home.

Police said Brown was last seen taking an online test at the Wayne State law library, where she had been a student since 2010. The video camera in the library was broken, so it's unknown if anyone spoke to her or if she left alone.

The day after police discovered Brown's body, they arrested two men who were in possession of Brown's cellphone. They faced various charges, although investigators said they didn't believe the two men were involved with her death.

In December 2013, police released photos and videos taken from a gas station surveillance camera showing two men, described as "persons of interest," who had used Brown's credit card shortly before midnight Oct. 29.

The graduate of Detroit's Renaissance High School had two degrees from Wayne State — a master's degree in biomedical engineering and a bachelor's degree in bioscience. She was chairwoman of the board of a nonprofit after-school program, Developing K.I.D.S.

Court records show Brown had a rocky relationship with her ex-husband, obtaining personal protection orders against him in 2001 and in 2005. In both court filings, Brown said he assaulted her and threatened to kill her.

In one instance, Brown wrote that her ex-husband left a voicemail message, "saying that he was going to kill me."

Police officials last year told The Detroit News they investigated the ex-husband, along with an ex-boyfriend, the father of her youngest daughter, whom Brown took to court over parenting time and ownership of a car. They didn't say if either man was considered a suspect in the slaying.

On Tuesday, several people spoke during the press conference, including Brown's 15-year-old daughter, Nina Ross.

"I just wanted to say that my mom was my inspiration," Nina said, through tears. "She motivated me to be everything that I could be."

Jones said after the press conference her granddaughter, who used to go jogging with Brown, took the death especially hard.

"She lost her best friend and her mother," Jones said.

Jones said Brown was preparing to travel to Boston for a law school debate the weekend after she was killed.

Family friend Sharon Hampton called for anyone with information to come forward.

"I knew (Brown) when she was born, and I watched her grow into a beautiful young mother with a brilliant mind," she said. "If anyone knows anything at all, please contact Crime Stoppers or the police and let this family get closure."

In the meantime, Jones said it has been hard for the family to move on.

"I think about her every single day," Jones said. "She was my only little girl."

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) SPEAK-UP (773-2587).


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