Dail Brown Jr., 35, of Vienna, was arrested Friday night in Columbus, Ohio on a murder warrant for the death of his father, Dail Brown Sr., 64, according to police reports.
Fairfax County police had been seeking Dail Brown Jr., who, along with a family vehicle, had been missing since before his mother, Pattie Brown, returned to the family's home on Carrhill Road two days earlier and noticed a strong smell of cleaning agents. She shared the house with Dail Brown junior and senior and her daughter, Bonnie.
At 7 p.m. on Friday, police stopped calling Dail Brown Jr. a "person of interest" in the case and obtained a warrant for his arrest in light of new evidence. Police also discovered evidence of his whereabouts at that point, said police spokesperson Lt. Richard Henry.
Police would not comment on the nature of the evidence that led to an arrest warrant or their knowledge of his whereabouts.
Two and a half hours later, the Columbus Police Homicide Squad captured Brown without incident at a Knights Inn. "Things moved rapidly, as they usually do in a case like this," said Henry. "There was a lot of coordination going on at that point."
Brown is being held at the Franklin County Correctional Facility until he is extradited to Fairfax, where he will be served with a murder warrant alleging he killed his father, said police reports.
Henry said it will likely take a week and could take up to a month to extradite Brown.
WHEN PATTIE BROWN arrived home at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, "it wasn't immediately apparent that something was wrong," said Henry.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant, Pattie Brown noticed that her son and husband were not home and that the house smelled strongly of cleaning agents. She also found a note, signed "Dail," saying that the author had set out for Seattle to see about a possible job. She was not sure whose handwriting it was.
Around 4:30 p.m., her daughter arrived home and noticed what she thought were bloodstains on the stairs leading to the basement, the affidavit said. The two left the house and called the police. Responding officers traced the bloodstains from the basement through the family room and to the garage.
The next day, a detective noticed blood splatters on the wall and ceiling at the foot of the basement stairs, which he said were consistent with a gunshot injury, the affidavit went on to say. However, there was no report of a bullet hole. The detective also concluded that someone had attempted to clean up the blood at the scene.
At about 5:15 that evening, police discovered "human remains" in the trunk of a car at the home, according to police reports. Henry confirmed that more than one body bag was used to remove the remains from the vehicle. The body was later identified as that of Dail Brown Sr.
BROWN SR. HAD RETIRED in August as head of the National Marine Fisheries Service's ecosystem assistance division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said longtime colleague Tom Hourigan, who has taken over leadership of the division since Brown's retirement.
Hourigan said Brown Sr. had worked for the federal government for 38 years, most of which he spent at NOAA, and had been in charge of the ecosystem assistance division since it was established in the mid-90s. "His area of expertise was marine biology," said Hourigan, noting that Brown Sr. had earned his doctoral degree in the field at the University of California at Santa Barbara after completing his undergraduate work in Ohio.
"He had a very active interest in all areas of science and was an avid reader," said Hourigan. "He always had some nonfiction book on science or the history of science that he was reading."
"One of the main things about him was that he really cared about people," Hourigan went on. "He served as a mentor to a great number of people during his career, and many are still playing a big part in NOAA and other agencies."
Hourigan said he had not met Brown's son, although Brown Sr., his wife and his daughter had been to Hourigan's house. He said Brown Sr. had not often spoken of his son.
He said he knew that Dail Brown Jr. had moved out of the family home at some point, and he was unsure of the circumstances of his return.