ROANOKE — The dramatic 18-day search for Michael Alexander Brown came to a close Wednesday when the Marine was arrested at the same house where he’s accused of committing a fatal shooting.
Brown, 22, was found at about 8 a.m. Wednesday inside a family home in Franklin County and was taken into custody without incident, authorities said.
No one else appeared to be at the house at the time. Officials said Brown seemed to be in good condition.
Investigators were still working to learn more about where Brown had been and how he had been subsisting amid a massive search for him that touched on three states and shut down parts of Roanoke two weeks ago after a sighting was reported there.
Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton said the search had been an intensive effort that brought together a string of local, state and federal agencies.
Brown’s arrest was carried out by a team that included the sheriff’s office, U.S. Marshals Service, FBI and Virginia State Police.
“I am thankful the situation has come to a successful closure with no injury to the public or law enforcement personnel,” Overton said. “I am further thankful for the cooperative working relationships we’ve had from the beginning of our criminal investigation.”
Investigators declined to discuss in detail what led them back to the house that morning in a rural part of Hardy.
Brad Sellers, acting federal marshal for the district, said investigators received information that spurred them to refocus on the residence.
“We were able to make contact with Mr. Brown this morning and, thankfully, take him into custody without any injury,” he said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long Brown had been at the house. Authorities had searched the house on multiple occasions since the case began.
Brown was wanted on charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in a felony in the Nov. 9 shooting of Rodney Wilfred Brown.
Law enforcement said Rodney Brown was the boyfriend of Michael Brown’s mother, Vanessa Hanson.
Federal court documents listed Hanson as a witness to the Nov. 9 shooting. Reached Wednesday, Hanson declined to discuss that day but said she was grateful her son was brought in safely and the search was concluded with no one harmed.
Police believe Michael Brown had been trying to contact his mother and grandmother when he was spotted two weeks ago tapping on the window of a Roanoke house where his grandmother lived.
Once in custody Wednesday, he reportedly asked for his mother again. Hanson said she was contacted by officials and told he wanted to see her.
She was making arrangements to visit him that afternoon and said above all else she wanted him to know that he wasn’t alone.
“That I love him, and I’ll be there to support him,” she said.
Hanson said she hadn’t been in touch with Brown since the search began and was surprised to learn he had gone to the house in Franklin County.
She first learned of his arrest from attorney Deborah Caldwell-Bono, who has been hired by friends to represent Brown.
Caldwell-Bono, who was able to meet with Brown after his arrest, said he was cooperative with authorities and told her he was ready to be brought in.
The attorney said she couldn’t discuss in detail the circumstances of his arrest. Both she and federal officials said he didn’t contact authorities in advance to arrange a surrender.
Caldwell-Bono said she felt a series of public appeals made by family and friends helped Brown decide to bring an end to the chase.
“I think knowing that he wasn’t alone helped him in his decision,” she said.
She said it was too early to discuss how his court case might unfold, or potential defense motions.
Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney A.J. Dudley declined to comment on the case.
In addition to the charges in Franklin County, Brown had been facing a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. The U.S. Marshals Service said that charge would be withdrawn to allow the Franklin County case to take priority.
Franklin County authorities declined to field questions about the homicide investigation as it remains an active case.
Officials thanked the public for its aid during the search for Brown. No lead from the general public directly led to Wednesday’s arrest, but the community remained alert and generated more than 200 tips.
Federal authorities said search teams took more than 340 “investigative actions” during their work. Sellers said the case highlighted the close collaboration among law enforcement agencies in the region.
“There was a tremendous amount of man hours spent across multiple states,” he said. “We pull together in times like this and collectively work together to make sure the public is as safe as possible.”
The search extended beyond Virginia into North Carolina and South Carolina.
Brown, a Marine corporal, had been stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina until he was reported absent from his post without authorization on Oct. 24.
That same day, he checked into a campground in South Carolina and appeared to return there at least briefly after Nov. 9.
Questions still remain as to why he left his military post and why he headed toward South Carolina.
Staff writer Matt Chittum contributed to this report.