GEORGETOWN — For more than two years after Penny Michelle Brown checked out of the Georgetown Healthcare Center and returned to the apartment she shared with her younger brother, Timothy Allen Brown, no one saw her.
Her father, Terry Gray of Georgetown, told police he spoke with his daughter by phone in December 2007. Neighbors hadn't seen her, according to a missing-persons report filed Wednesday in a Scott County court.
Penny Brown had stopped using her food stamps. She didn't use her medical card after she left Georgetown Healthcare, the report said.
But her Social Security disability checks, $600 to $700 a month, kept coming and her brother kept cashing them, according to investigators.
No inquiry was made of Penny Brown's whereabouts until social workers went to the Browns' apartment and took custody of his 8-year-old son.
Nearly a month later, Penny Brown's mummified body, which was "badly decomposed," was found in the trunk of her brother's car. Medical examiners say they do not know how she died, and they might never know, "simply because of the condition of the body."
Tim Brown, 30, was arrested Tuesday evening in St. Louis on charges of abuse or neglect of an adult and interstate flight to avoid prosecution. An extradition hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.
Brown will probably face more charges, Georgetown police Chief Greg Reeves said at a Wednesday morning news conference.
Brown did not explain what happened to his sister, said Deputy U.S. Marshal Roger Daniel.
Police think Penny Brown has been dead for two years and that her body was in the apartment when the 8-year-old was removed from the home.
"We believe that the body was moved to the vehicle at some point after the child was removed from the home," Reeves said.
Kept out of sister's room
According to court documents, the investigation into Penny Brown's disappearance began after social workers from the Department for Community Based Services removed the 8-year-old boy from the apartment Sept. 17 because of "deplorable conditions of the residence."
Social workers found an apartment filled with trash and human feces, Reeves said. They also saw a wheelchair folded in the living area and "a vast amount of trash," the report says.
They took pictures of the mess, but Tim Brown wouldn't let them in the room that belonged to his sister, according to the report.
Brown's child appeared traumatized and told social workers that he was afraid to use the bathroom at the apartment, the report said. The child also told social workers he wasn't allowed in "Aunt Penny's" room, Reeves said Wednesday.
The next day, Sept. 18, the report says, social workers returned and began inquiring about Penny Brown. They requested permission to look in her bedroom, to which they had been denied access the previous day. Tim Brown let social workers peek into the room. They saw unopened boxes of adult diapers, a hospital bed and a medical lift.
Tim Brown told them that his sister was living with Danielle Saucier of Dry Ridge.
The social workers left Brown's home and began researching Penny Brown.
Saucier said Wednesday that Penny Brown had never lived with her. She said Tim Brown told Saucier that he told his relatives she was a nurse at the nursing home where Penny Brown was staying. Tim told the relatives that she was living with Saucier, according to the report.
On Sept. 19, a social worker requested assistance from Georgetown police for a welfare check on Penny Brown. When they arrived, documents say, Tim Brown's car was not there and no one answered the door.
They interviewed neighbors. One said he had never seen Penny Brown. Another said he had walked by "possibly" in March and saw her lying on the couch. Police requested a search warrant.
When they returned to the apartment, they wore biohazard suits. They could smell a bad odor outside. The officers didn't find any signs that Penny Brown had been living in the apartment, besides what they had seen before, according to the report. A missing-persons report was issued Sept. 20 for her.
But then police couldn't find Tim Brown.
No answer from brother
Friends and family told police they tried to call Brown but he didn't answer, according to the report.
Police called several people, including Brown's aunt, his grandmother, his father and his boss at a Georgetown Speedway, where he worked third shift. No one had talked to him.
Tim Brown didn't answer when police called his cell phone either. Investigators watched his mailbox to see whether would pick up his sister's disability check, but he never showed up.
They issued search warrants to see whether he had used his cell phone or e-mail accounts.
They waited to see whether he would pick up his paycheck from Speedway. He never did. Investigators thought he might have gone to New Zealand, where his mother lives, the report says.
"It is unknown if Penny Brown is alive and in need of emergency care as she suffers from cerebral palsy ... " the report says.
Then a hit came up: On Sept. 30, Tim Brown checked his MySpace page, and the police traced his computer usage to a Panera Bread store in St. Louis.
But police didn't find Brown's car until Oct. 14, when a St. Louis resident complained that an unknown car had been parked in front of their house for several days.
The police towed Brown's 1998 Chevy Malibu from St. Louis to Kentucky. On Oct. 24, they searched it and found Penny Brown's severely decomposed body in the trunk. The body was wrapped in blankets — an attempt to conceal the decomposition, Reeves said earlier this week — and was bagged with industrial-grade plastic, possibly to contain the odor, he said.
Tim Brown was arrested at a library Tuesday evening by St. Louis police and U.S. marshals, who had canvassed the area where his car had been found. A staff member at the library had recognized his picture, investigators said Wednesday.
Called his sister a hero
Neighbors say Tim Brown was a quiet person who kept to himself.
According to his MySpace page, he is a Buddhist. He attended DePaul University in Chicago but didn't finish his degree. He described himself as a proud single dad and called his sister one of his heroes.
On another Web page, Tim Brown described himself as a "fairly laid back individual," who is "fair, giving, respectful and honest for the most part."
Tim Brown's father told police he was not involved with Tim or Penny Brown, though he did help them move into their apartment in 2003.
Jewel Myers, a friend, told police she never saw Penny Brown, and she had known Tim Brown for a year, the report says. Myers told police she "was offended" because Brown never invited her to his home. She said Brown told her he hid his sister in a nursing home because his family was fighting for custody of her because they wanted her disability check, the report said.
Several witnesses told police Brown had refused to let them come inside when they visited his residence.
Saucier told police she went to dinner with Brown but he would not let her come inside afterward.
Saucier, who knew Tim Brown because he had been friends with her son's father, said Wednesday that Brown "just seemed normal."
"That's what's so strange," she said