Every once in a while, my OCD gets the best of me, and I find myself going off on a tangent, obsessed by some little thing that, if I were anyone else, I’d probably just disregard. Recently, as you might recall, I got a little fixated, for whatever reason, by a large bell that figured prominently in a short film shot by Orson Welles at the age of 19. I have news to report on that front, by the way, but it’ll have to wait for another day. For the time being, I want to discuss an old episode of the television program Unsolved Mysteries, that was shot in Ypsilanti, following the 1984 murder of local real estate agent Jack Brown.
When I was young, I was a huge fan of In Search Of, and, when it went off the air, Unsolved Mysteries was the next best thing that I could find to fill the void. So, I watched it pretty regularly, daydreaming about the day when I’d grow up, leave home, and find work playing the part of a criminal in one of their reenactments. Anyway, it was though Unsolved Mysteries that, as a young kid in New Jersey, I first became acquainted with the city of Ypsilanti. The episode in question centered around the unsolved murder of an Ypsilanti real estate agent by the name of Jack Brown. Well, lately, for whatever reason, I’ve found myself wondering about the case, and, more specifically, the building where the murder took place. And, it was this insatiable curiosity of mine that led me to YouTube today, in search of the episode, which I haven’t seen in over 25 years. Fortunately, I was able to find it… Here it is, in two parts.
I’m not sure exactly why this specific episode has stuck in my head all of these years, when I can’t remember things that are truly important to me, like the names of my friends’ kids, and my computer password, but I guess that’s how my mind works. Maybe it was the conspiracy angle, as articulated by Jack’s wife, who mentioned that Jack claimed to have been in possession of evidence that would send powerful people to prison. Or, more likely, I just liked the smart-ass response that Jack, in the reenactment, directed toward the gunman, who had burst into his office, asking, “You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you?” Jack’s reply, according to witnesses, was, “Well… maybe.” (He was the immediately shot in the neck.) For whatever reason, though, the episode was burned into my young mind.
The case is a weird one. People seem think that the men who murdered Jack Brown, given the way the conducted themselves, were hired killers, but no one seems to know why the seemingly mild-mannered real estate agent was targeted for death on Jan. 11, 1984. Ed Hall, the Ypsilanti Police Department detective interviewed in the piece, suggests that Brown may have been “leading a secret life”, unbeknownst to friends and family. There’s scant information available online, but, given some comments left in response to a post on the EMUtalk site in 2009 about cronyism involved in the hiring of EMU’s Chief Government Relations Officer, I think it’s safe to say that some believe that Jack was killed by high-powered individuals in Ypsilanti. Following are a few of these comments.
I’m betting none of you will touch this one with a 10 foot pole! If you know the history, you know that it is, or that it borders on being criminal based on some of the things done in the past. How many of you know what the “Eagle Brief” is, or was, and the story behind Ehman and Greenstreet Real Estate and the T.V. show Unsolved Mysteries?
I don’t disagree with you Alum. Just saying the good ol’ boys were never directly linked to the killing of Jack Brown.
Jack Brown is my grandfather. I am tied in with both the Brown’s and the Stumbo’s. I promise you that these rumors aren’t just rumors. Ypsilanti is a shady place and it makes me happy knowing that other people are aware of it too. I would just be cautious when dealing with certain people around here.
I should add, before anyone targets me for elimination, that have no information relative to this case, and no burning desire to see it solved. My interest is strictly in the identification of the building in which the murder took place, which you can see in the initial few frames of the first video above. Ehman & Greestreet still exists as a firm, with offices at 1947 Whitaker Road, but, judging from the footage, I’m thinking that the building where this took place was on Michigan Avenue. At any rate, if any of you cyber sleuths could help me out, I’d appreciate it.
Additional reading on the death of Jack Brown can be found at The Michigan Daily, Unsolved Mysteries, and, for some reason, Sitcoms Online. (For what it’s worth, I don’t think it would make a very good sitcom.)