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Pinellas deputies: Mother killed two sons and hung herself

8:46 PM, Sep 22, 2012   |    comments
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  • 9-year-old Zander Brown and 5-year-old Zayden Brown
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Clearwater, Florida -- Take one look at the front lawn of the home at 2015 Sydney Street in Clearwater and there are signs kids live there. Two boys, 9-year-old Zander Brown and 5-year-old Zayden Brown.

Neighbor William Lavold called Zander "smart, calm, and collected." Neighbor Nicole Bell said Zander was respectful. "He's the one that would take his shoes off before coming in the house and say thank you," she said.

William said Zayden idolized his big brother. He said, "Zayden was always looking up to his brother, not wanting to go anywhere without him."

Pinellas Sheriff's deputies found the boys' bodies in their home just after 2 a.m. Saturday along with their mother, 34-year-old Dawn Brown.

"It is believed that Dawn killed her two children and then committed suicide by hanging herself with an electrical cord in the bedroom," said Sgt. David DiSano with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Lavold, a close family friend, believes Murphy Brown, the boys' father and Dawn's husband, found their bodies after he returned home from playing poker. Lavold said, "He texted me in the middle of the night, told me he lost his kids, that Dawn killed his kids."

Bell said the news is hard to grasp. "Yourself, that's your own choice, but two innocent little boys? I don't get it."

Bell said Zander and her son were classmates at McMullen Booth Elementary School. She said Dawn attended Open House a few weeks ago. "She was curious about homework, how they'd be graded on this, asked a lot of questions," Nicole said.

The family may have been having financial problems. Lavold said Murphy told him on Friday the power went out and a neighbor was helping them. He also said Dawn Brown may have suffered from depression. He said she quit school a year ago to be a stay-at-home mom. Her plans were to be a teacher. Murphy, Lavold said, earns a living repairing and selling cars.

Deputies say they are waiting on autopsy results to determine the children's cause of death.

JDM Engine Imports is accepting donations towards the children's burial. To donate, visit










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