Murder & Mystery in Brown County, Indiana

Marion Lee Brown was a farmer and orchard owner during the late 1800s and early 1900s in Brown County, Indiana. With his wife, Lourena (nee Baughman), he had worked 40 years to make his orchard the best in the county. During this time they had eight children, who would also help out on the farm and orchard.

On December 15, 1930, Lee and a man named Chester Bunge were cutting wood on the property when Marion’s son Paul shot both of them, as well as his mother Lourena.

Lourena had time to call a neighbor, Frank Crews. Frank started to make his way to the farm without knowing what exactly was happening, when he met Chester, who had been shot twice but had gotten away. The men went back to Crews home to call for help, then returned to the Brown home.

They found the Brown home in flames. Once they were able to sort through the wreckage of the home, they only found two bodies. Doctors determined that the bodies belonged to Lee and Lourena.

The sheriff searched the nearby woods for Paul, assuming he had fled into the woods and committed suicide, or would be making his way north to jump on a passing train. They never found Paul or his body.

The bodies of Lee and Lourena were so badly burned they were buried in a double casket, in Lanam Ridge Cemetery.

A single headstone was made for Marion Lee, Lourena, and Paul.

In March of the following year it was decided that the bodies would be exhumed and a second autopsy performed. This time, doctors from Indianapolis determined the bodies were both male. Did this mean that Paul died in the fire instead? If so, what happened to Lourena?

However, the doctors who did the original autopsy stood by their findings, saying the bodies were those of Lee and Lourena. But now, almost 90 years later, I doubt we’ll ever know what actually happened and who ended up buried with Marion Lee Brown.

Lanam Ridge Cemetery