Longtime Summit County local Robert Brown found dead near Blue River home
January 30, 2015
A longtime Summit County resident was found dead Tuesday afternoon near his secluded home in Blue River.
Robert Brown, 74, was known for spinning yarns at local bars. He was last seen on Saturday evening when a taxi reportedly dropped him off at his home, where he lives alone.
The Summit County Coroner confirmed Brown's death around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, shortly after seven personnel with Summit County Sheriff's Office and the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District entered his home and subsequently searched his property.
The manner of death was consistent with an accident, according to the coroner's report. An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the exact cause of death and the office expects to have final results within a week.
The autopsy will also include a toxicology test. Law enforcement officers suspect that he had been drinking, and several people reported seeing Brown at the Breckenridge Brewery on Saturday. His son, Alex Brown, told law enforcement that his father had a variety of health-related issues.
"He was not in the best of health," undersheriff Derek Woodman said.
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Alex Brown made a concerned call to the sheriff's office early on Tuesday morning. Alex Brown lives on the East Coast and talks regularly with his father, according to the incident report. When the two didn't talk for three days, Brown's son asked the office to perform a courtesy check at his father's home, Woodman said.
Brown's vehicle was parked in front of the home when deputies arrived, and there was no indication of forced entry at the home or vehicle.
Sheriff's deputies found the home empty and declared Brown a missing person early on Tuesday afternoon. Due to the thick woods and deep snow near Brown's home, the sheriff's office sent a search dog into the surrounding outdoor property, Woodman said.
Shortly after, the dog discovered Brown's body within several hundred yards of his home. He was "essentially at the neighbors house," Woodman said.
The sheriff's office is currently investigating the circumstances of Brown's disappearance, including what happened between the reported taxi ride on Saturday evening and the office's property search on Tuesday afternoon.
"As the coroner indicated, there's no indication of foul play, just from looking at the way in which his body was found and the surroundings," Woodman said. "It does seem like a purely accidental situation, but there are a few things we still need to investigate that will give the situation more clarity."
AN OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT
Within a few hours of Alex Brown's call to the sheriff's office, locals who knew Robert Brown took to Facebook with pleas for help and information. The comments sections on those posts grew rapidly as dozens of people weighed in with pieces of information: where Brown was last seen, who he was with, what he was doing.
One post, written by Breckenridge resident Paula Driscoll, was shared 70 times in just a few hours. The post included information on the search efforts, along with Brown's photo. It also said his phone was turned off.
"I served Bob a drink at the Breckenridge Brewery Saturday afternoon around happy hour," Breckenridge resident Suzanne Dezelan Nance wrote in the comment thread on Driscoll's Facebook page. "He asked me to call a taxi for him to be taken to his home in Blue River. I did and saw him get into the High Country minivan taxi and head out of the brewery parking lot."
In a later comment, Nance said Brown "seemed very aware, coherent and not intoxicated" at the bar. Happy hour at Breckenridge Brewery runs from 3 to 6 p.m.
By Wednesday afternoon, almost exactly 24 hours after Brown was first reported missing, the informational Facebook posts were replaced by odes and tributes to a man many people remember for his gentle demeanor and intricate, fascinating stories.
"My heart is absolutely broken today," Paula Driscoll posted to her wall on Wednesday. "I know Bob is in a better place now and reunited with the love of his life, Lucia. He was unique and funny, and I will miss seeing him every single day. Breckenridge was lucky to have you."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misidentified Summit County Sheriff's Office Undersheriff Derek Woodman as Derek Woodhouse. It also misstated the office of Summit County Coroner. The Summit Daily News regrets the errors.
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