Family and pathologist in 42-year-old cold case speak

AYDEN, N.C. (WCNT)- Sheila Brown was found dead in the woods 42 years ago. Officials opened the case as a murder rape, and closed it as death by natural causes. Dr. Lee West, the pathologist who worked on the case in 1973, said the cause of death couldn’t be determined.

“The autopsy was inconclusive and did not establish a cause of death, nor did it establish a matter of death, meaning natural, homocide, suicide, accidental,” Lee said.

Officials told the family she died of cirrhosis of the liver. There were also rumors going around that she was murdered by mistake.

Brown’s sister, Di Ann Brown, said, “they were looking for Betty Jo Chapman because she was going with this white guy. That was back in the seventies, ku klux klan and them was going to kill her if she didn’t stop messing around with that guy, and they got my sister as a mistake for her.”

Regardless of all the speculations, Brown’s sister has her own theories.

“I believe that she was out there with some guy that she knew and she got sick and he got scared, and left her,” Brown said.

The reopening of the case has Brown’s sister hopeful, and she knows her mother would be happy to see the case being investigated again. Major Dance at the Sheriff’s office is in talks with the District Attorney’s office to see if they body can be exhumed for further investigation.

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