FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Search warrants and affidavits unsealed in the investigation into Rodney Brown’s murder in Franklin County show unknown phone numbers attempted to contact his girlfriend, Vanessa Hanson, dozens of times.
Hanson’s son, Michael Brown, is accused of Rodney Brown’s murder. A nationwide manhunt lasted for weeks following Rodney’s Nov. 9, 2019, shooting death.
Search warrants show Hanson received dozens of phone calls from multiple unknown numbers beginning Nov. 12, 2019, three days after Rodney Brown’s murder.
An affidavit dated Nov. 27, 2019, says a “a new number” called Hanson’s phone 33 times since the Michael Brown manhunt began. Police were aware of the calls because the Circuit Court had issued an “active pen register trap and trace order” on her phone, which would allow agents to track calls to and from her phone.
“The number is denoted as [redacted by WFXRtv.com], and is not attributable to any known family member, or person interviewed or involved in the investigation for Brown,” the warrant written by Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew S. Davis read. “From training and experience of the affiant, a new number appearing after the flight of a fugitive, is often indicative of a device number being utilized by the fugitive.”
The document goes on to say that agents found evidence on a computer discovered in an RV Michael Brown allegedly drove to Roanoke. On the computer, federal agents say Michael Brown’s Straight Talk Wireless account was last activated on Nov. 10, 2019, one day after Rodney Brown’s murder.
A search warrant dated Nov. 20, 2019, was filed with Facebook. It alleged that Michael Brown’s Facebook account had been communicating with Vanessa Hanson’s account. No further details were included in the warrant.
Search warrants were served to various companies with which Michael Brown was known to do business, including Apple, AT&T, Verizon, Straight Talk Wireless, Google, and several banks. Search warrants were also executed on devices found during the murder investigation at Rodney Brown’s home and an RV which Michael Brown is believed to have driven to Roanoke while on the run.
Devices found during the investigation include four phones, a Blackberry tablet, a Garmin Watch, an Acer tablet, an iPad, an Amazon Fire tablet, an external hard drive, 25 SD cards, 9 flash drives, and a computer found in the RV.
In one of the search warrants, it is revealed that Rodney Brown had withdrawn “a significant amount of cash from [SunTrust Bank] on November 8, 2019, and it is more probable than not the victim would have cash on his person or in his home.”
“Your affiant knows from training and experience that money is a known motive to commit murder and believe information obtained from the victims (sic) bank activity is evidentiary and will further the investigation,” the warrant read.
Michael Brown was arrested on Nov. 27, 2019, at his mother’s home in Franklin County, where Rodney Brown was murdered on Nov. 9, 2019. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 19 at 2:30 p.m. in Franklin County General District Court.
WFXR News contacted Diane Hanson, Michael Brown’s grandmother, Thursday morning about the newly-unsealed search warrants involving her daughter and grandson. She declined to comment.
- ‘Change never comes through violence’: MLK’s daughter asks protesters to opt for peace
- Health officials offer free, drive-thru COVID-19 testing this week in Danville, Chatham
- UPDATE: Crash on VA-122 North in Franklin County now causing minor delays
- Richmond police arrested 233 people overnight; most for curfew violations
- St. Andrew’s Catholic Church closes for more than a week after staff member tests positive for COVID-19