From the Tampa Bay Times:
Brown, 57, lived alone in the Whispering Pines mobile home park in Largo, a professional puppeteer with a soft, Southern-accented voice and thick eyeglasses. He often served pizza to kids in the neighborhood, then drove them to services at Gulf Coast Church, where he was an active congregant.
There’s a video at the link showing Brown and one of his puppets. Very “Mr. Roger’s” like. In the clip, they discuss what to do if your friends are looking at dirty pictures, using a verse from the Bible to make a moral point. Good, clean, wholesome Christian entertainment for children.
But there was another side to Brown, according to a 29-page criminal complaint filed July 20 in federal court in Tampa: The man who, as he was feeding pizza to teenagers, nursed fantasies of murdering and eating them. The one who acted out Bible stories with puppets at his church, while musing online about carving and cooking the body parts of a young parishioner for Easter.
Yep, good, clean, wholesom….whaaaaaaaat?
“I imagine him wiggling and then going still,” Brown told an associate in an Internet chat session, describing his plot to kill and cannibalize a boy at Gulf Coast Church, according to the criminal complaint.
On Friday, Brown was arrested on charges of conspiring to kidnap a child and possession of child pornography and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents who searched his home found lewd images of children bound and gagged, a flier for a missing child and “images of children that appear to be deceased.”
According to the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, Brown told agents that he and Kansas resident Michael Arnett, another alleged child cannibalism enthusiast, “did discuss killing, dismembering and eating” a specific boy at Gulf Coast Church. However, Brown said “it was just a fantasy and he could never and would never hurt anyone.”
Thankfully, they apparently caught this guy before he could turn one of the neighborhood kids into an Easter ham. I find it amusing how he admits to discussing “killing, dismembering, and eating” a kid, but then plays the “it’s only a fantasy” card, swearing that he could never actually hurt anyone.
Sure. It’s just a fantasy. Until it isn’t. You could never hurt anyone. Until you do.
Brown had ties to a wide array of children’s programs in the Tampa Bay area. In addition to the Gulf Coast Church, officials for the Tampa Bay Rays, the Pinellas County School District, the Christian Television Network, the city of Largo and Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, among others, all said he had been hired or volunteered as a performer, instructor or mentor.
With opportunities like those, how long would it have remained just a fantasy? Good thing we’ll never have to find out.
Stacy Gaughan, who lives across the street from Brown, said she would often see him driving teenage boys to Gulf Coast Church in a van that the church lent to him. On Halloween, she said, he would crank up a cotton candy machine in front of his house and spend all night serving trick-or-treaters.
“We all thought he was weird,” Gaughan said. “But we had no idea the things he was thinking.”
Which leads me to the obvious question. If everyone already thought he was “weird,” why the hell did everyone trust him with their children?
And no, I’m not blaming the actions of this monster on religion. Fantasizing about having the neighbor kid for Easter dinner (not over for dinner, for dinner) puts you firmly in the “mentally fucked no matter what” column in my opinion, although I am sure that if Brown happened to be an atheist people would be crawling out of the woodwork to blame his desires on lack of belief and the teaching of evolution.
But damn people, just because someone is Christian and affiliated with a church doesn’t mean you can turn off your parenting instincts.
Quick story: A few years back, I was living with my ex and her two daughters, aged 4 and 7 at the time, in a pretty shoddy trailer park. Once a week, one of the local fundamentalist churches would send their van out to the local trailer parks to gather up a bunch of kids. Seriously. When they saw a kid out playing, they would cruise up and ask them if they wanted to go have some pizza and play some games. Don’t get me wrong, they would get the parents permission and everything; they weren’t just snatching them, but most of the parents who let their kids climb in the van had no idea who these people were, other than that they were from “some church.” My ex let her daughters go once. When they returned two hours later, the youngest hugged me and started crying. When we finally got her calmed down, we found the reason why. They had told her that her mother and I were both going to burn in everlasting fire because we didn’t go to church. The two hours included 30 minutes of play, 30 minutes of pizza, and an hour of hellfire, including separating the kids into “saved” and “unsaved” groups and interrogating them on their parents religion.
I’m fairly positive that none of the church members involved had any desire to kill and eat the children. But still, just because someone is with a church is no reason to vacate all parental responsibility and ship your kids off with them.
Just noticed that Mock, Paper, Scissors also posted about this one.