Mother had history of trouble
Police say Camellia Brown repeatedly violated court orders to stay away from her ex-husband and children

Mar 28, 2006


Sarah Ovaska and Jennifer Brevorka, Staff Writers

Brown is charged with killing her ex-husband

Authorities think Camellia Brown -- fixated for years over unfounded allegations that her ex-husband abused their two children -- repeatedly violated protective orders and once broke into his Knightdale home and, several times, wore a wig to pass undetected at the children's school.

The 47-year-old woman was in court Monday, where she was ordered held without bond after being charged with murder in connection with the Friday shooting death of Earl Thierry Brown, 42.

Raleigh police detectives believe that, more than two months after an appeal for custody of her children was turned down, Camellia Brown shot and killed her ex-husband in Raleigh's Pullen Park at around 7 p.m. Friday, with the couple's 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son nearby.

"She so firmly believed [that abuse occurred] that it just ate her up," said Thomas Dimmock, the attorney who represented Earl Brown in custody proceedings. "She has some serious delusions about reality and facts."

Bruce James, a friend who allowed Camellia Brown to move into his Fuquay-Varina home in August, said she was piecing her life back together and cared for elderly neighbors. He said when Brown left Fuquay-Varina on Friday afternoon, she said she was going to the Wake County Courthouse in downtown Raleigh. She made no mention of plans to see her children or ex-husband, James said.

Police did not say on Monday why they think the divorced couple, who married in 1996 and divorced five years later, and their two children were together at Pullen Park.

Concerns about Camellia Brown's mental stability emerged in the years after the couple's 2001 divorce. A 16-page October court order that gave sole custody to Earl Brown and prohibited Camellia Brown from having any contact with her children details a five-year battle where Camellia Brown took dramatic steps to try to win custody of her children by:

* Lying in court documents. Camellia Brown attempted to obtain protective orders against her husband by falsely claiming Earl Brown had physically abused their son and sexually molested their daughter.

* Threatening to kill her ex-husband.

* Claiming that her husband was having personal contact with social workers who were involved in the couple's custody dispute.

* Peppering her daughter with false allegations that the girl's father sexually molested her. Camellia Brown's mental state had "created an environment where [the daughter] believed things occurred whether or not they did, in fact happen... ." a judge wrote.

Eventually, a Wake County judge found that Camellia Brown's mental instability had traumatized the children and "as such, constituted child abuse."

As the custody case for the Brown's two children dragged on, Camellia Brown became more agitated and appeared, at times, mentally unstable, according to court documents. Court documents allege that Camellia Brown violated court instructions by doing things such as:

* Showing up at the home of a social worker who worked with the family.

* Violating a 2003 protective order that prohibited her from being within 500 feet of Earl Brown, her children or the children's schools. In November 2004, Camellia Brown moved into an apartment that overlooked her ex-husband's back yard. Brown would, at times, don a spiral curled wig and go to her children's schools.

In February 2005, a Wake County judge found that Camellia Brown violated the 2003 protective order. The judge ruled that Camellia Brown must live 2,000 feet away from her children and have no contact with her ex-husband or children.

In June, Knightdale police arrested her when she broke into Earl Brown's home, demanding to see her son and daughter.

Earl Brown's next-door neighbor and landlord, Betty Schmiedel, said before the June break-in, she would often see Camellia Brown lurking around the home. Earl Brown didn't talk about the problems very much, but that day brought his children over Schmiedel's house so they wouldn't see police arrest their mother.

"He was always concerned about his children," Schmiedel said. "He was a good daddy."