Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Quest for Freedom: The True Story of Roy Brown


By the next morning, news of the discovery had spread across Cayuga County like wildfire, making the headlines of every newspaper in the area. The community, with its close ties and small-town tranquility, assumed Sabina's death had been a tragic accident; however, when the body reached the medical examiner's office, the truth of her death came as a shock to everyone in the area.

One of the first clues to cause of death that the medical examiner noticed was the identification of human bite marks on Sabina's body, along with what appeared to be multiple knife wounds and ligature marks around her neck. She also had suffered defensive wounds on her hands, suggesting that she had struggled with her attacker. Her death obviously had been no accident, and the official ruling was homicide.

Detective Peter J. Pickney was assigned to investigate Sabina's homicide. He knew the deceased casually and was aware of her former marriage to Barry's brother. As far as he knew, the marriage had ended amicably, and he knew of no one who bore any ill will toward her.

Before her death, Sabina had been a social worker in the Cayuga County Children's Protection Division. When Detective Pickney spoke with her supervisor, he was told that she got along well with coworkers and had not had any recent problems of which they were aware; however, her supervisor did say that she had had a problem approximately 8 months earlier, when she removed a 17-year-old girl from her father's home. The man, Roy Brown, had been angry about the decision, and later began making harassing phone calls to the office and had mailed several angry letters. As a result, the supervisor had contacted the sheriff's department, and Roy had been arrested.

When Detective Pickney investigated the supervisor's report, he learned that Brown had served 8 months in jail for the incident and had been released less than a week before Sabina's murder. Brown also had a prior conviction and a restraining order put against him on behalf of a previous girlfriend. According to his file, Brown lived in Syracuse, N.Y., roughly 30 miles from Sabina's house.

With this information, Detective Pickney went to the district attorney's office and secured a court order to obtain teeth impressions from Brown to compare to the bite marks found on Sabina's body. When approached by police, Brown did not protest and willingly provided investigators with a bite impression.

The following morning, Brown was awakened by a knock on his front door. When he answered it, he was surprised to see several patrol cars parked in front of his house. He was also surprised to see Detective Pickney standing there with a warrant for his arrest.


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