ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
82°
Sunny
H 84° L 65°
  • cloudy-day
    82°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 84° L 65°
  • clear-day
    67°
    Morning
    Sunny. H 84° L 65°
  • clear-day
    83°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Sunny. H 88° L 67°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

National
New Orleans PD probes 34-year-old disappearance of toddler after fatal house fire 
Close

New Orleans PD probes 34-year-old disappearance of toddler after fatal house fire 

Police Probe Disappearance Of Toddler After Fatal House Fire

New Orleans PD probes 34-year-old disappearance of toddler after fatal house fire 

Police in New Orleans have opened an investigation into the 1984 disappearance of a 3-year-old girl who vanished in the immediate aftermath of a house fire that killed two of her brothers. 

Investigators opened a missing person case on Remona Brown this week, nearly 34 years after she disappeared. Investigators released a photo of the girl at age 3, along with a composite photo aged to show what Remona might look like today at age 37, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported

An official missing person report has been filed by one of Remona’s sisters, Simona Brown, the newspaper said. No missing person report was filed on the girl at the time of the fire and her disappearance. 

The new search comes eight months after a three-part investigative series by WWL-TV in New Orleans, which looked at the initial probe into the little girl’s whereabouts. 

The news station reported that Remona was one of 10 siblings sleeping in their Algiers home early on the morning of March 6, 1984, which was Mardi Gras that year in the Crescent City. Two of Remona’s sisters and her mother, Johnnie Mae Brown, recently recalled the fire that killed Aubrey Brown Jr., 4, and Kevin Brown, 2. 

“I didn’t hear nothing. I didn’t smell nothing. When I raised up, I saw the fire,” Pam Nickerson, who was 14 when her sister vanished, told WWL-TV

Several of the children were asleep in the dining room, near a furnace, while Aubrey and Kevin slept on a couch in the living room, the family said. Remona and her eldest brother, Joseph Brown, slept separately in two bedrooms of the three-bedroom house. 

Johnnie Mae Brown told the news station that she and her husband were able to jump to safety through their bedroom window after Nickerson alerted the family to the flames. The couple was also able to help Joseph climb out of the window of the boys’ bedroom.

Nickerson helped the children in the dining room escape the fast-moving blaze, but neither she nor her parents could get to the boys sleeping in the living room. Nickerson and another sister, Simona Brown, who was 6 at the time of the fire, fought back tears as they remembered hearing their baby brothers screaming for help.

“All you could hear was, ‘Mom! Dad! Help me, please,’” Simona recalled, according to WWL-TV

Firefighters later found the boys’ burned bodies huddled together, Aubrey holding onto Kevin as though he was trying to protect him from the flames, the news station reported

Investigators found a third set of bones the afternoon of the fire that they initially believed to be Remona’s. They learned the next day, however, that the bones were those of an animal.

“Immediate orders were to return to the scene and bring all the resources I had available to me,” retired New Orleans police Capt. Harry Mendoza, an arson investigator who worked the fire, told WWL-TV. “To do excavation of the scene to determine where that child’s body was.”

Despite four exhaustive searches by firefighters and police officers and additional searches by the Browns, Remona’s body was never found. 

In Mendoza’s supplemental report on the fire, one of the only pieces of the investigative file to survive Hurricane Katrina, the detective wrote that he consulted with a funeral home director to determine if the girl’s body could have been completely incinerated. What he learned was that it would take flames between 1,800 degrees and 2,800 degrees more than two hours to incinerate an adult body. 

Even then, recognizable bone fragments would remain. 

Mendoza and other fire experts contacted recently by WWL-TV agreed. 

“It’s really inconceivable to think that, in a house fire, all that existed of a human being, even a child between the ages of 3 and 4, would be completely consumed by that fire,” said Brant Thompson, deputy fire marshal for the State of Louisiana. 

In addition, firefighters who worked the scene had the blaze under control within 30 minutes of arrival. 

And Simona Brown offered a bombshell claim, one she has given since just days after the fire. She told WWL-TV that she remembers seeing her little sister outside after the survivors escaped the blaze. 

“My little sister Remona, she was with us. She was with us. And this car pulled up,” Simona said. “A bronze-looking old Cadillac just pulled up. An old black man and an old white lady offering to help us out. They’ll watch her for us. I was, like, ‘OK, cool.’ So when (Remona) got in, that was it. Gone.”

Family and neighbors said they do not remember an interracial couple living in the neighborhood in 1984. During Mardi Gras season, however, thousands of visitors pour into New Orleans to participate in the revelry. 

>> Read more trending news

Simona is the only one of the seven remaining siblings who claims to have seen Remona after the fire. She told the news station that, in her grief over her two brothers who were killed, she never told police about what she saw. 

The children’s maternal grandmother, Dorothy Nickerson, said that, although she never saw Remona again, she believes that the little girl called her a few days after the fire. 

“It’s been so long, but I know. I have a sharp mind,” Dorothy Nickerson said

The grandmother, now 90 years old, said the child on the other end of the line used the name Al, which was Remona’s nickname. Nickerson said as she tried to get the girl to tell her where she was, the phone went dead.

It sounded like someone took the receiver from the girl and hung it up, she said. 

“She didn’t know my phone number,” Nickerson told the news station. “Somebody must have dialed it for her.”

The family believes that person may have obtained Nickerson’s phone number from the newspaper, which published the number three days after the fire so those who wished to help the family could reach them. 

Dorothy Nickerson said she told her daughter about the phone call, but neither woman told police about it. Johnnie Mae Brown said her mind “just wasn’t right or something,” and she admitted seeking psychiatric help in the aftermath of her sons’ deaths and her daughter’s disappearance. 

Mendoza said he was never told about Simona Brown’s claim that she saw her sister being abducted, or about Nickerson’s mysterious phone call, WWL-TV reported. He said if he had been notified, he would have investigated the allegations. 

“I can assure you, I would’ve pursued it. From a professional perspective. From a human perspective,” Mendoza said

Mendoza’s report on the fire indicates that, after a week of officials trying to find Remona, the investigator visited her family and told her parents they could file a missing person report. It was never done. 

Now 66, Johnnie Mae Brown is fighting cancer that she recently learned has spread in her body. She prays for closure before her death.

“If I could just see her before, oh God,” Brown told WWL-TV. “Before God call on me, oh well, that would be so wonderful.”

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

  • National Weather Service meteorologists were is out surveying the storm damage in Fairfax on Monday. Saturday’s storm in Osage County toppled trees and powerlines. The meteorologists believe straight line winds reached up to 90 m.p.h. Damage was reported at the post office, fire department and at a cemetery.  No injuries have been reported. FOX23 and NEWS102.3 KRMG Chief Meteorologist James Aydelott says there’s a chance for storms nearly every day this week in Green Country. Tune to NEWS102.3 and AM740 KRMG for the latest weather information.  You can also get weather alerts sent to your phone by downloading the KRMG app.     
  • A day after President Donald Trump demanded an investigation into how the FBI dealt with investigations during the 2016 campaign, the White House accepted a plan from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to expand an ongoing review of the probe into Russian interference in the elections, and how it touched on the Trump Campaign. “Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign,” read a statement issued by the White House. “It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested,” the statement added, referring to an ongoing battle between Republicans in Congress and the feds for documents about the Russia probe. The outcome of the meeting between Mr. Trump, the Deputy Attorney General, the FBI Director, and the Director of National Intelligence – which was not listed on the President’s public schedule – was less explosive than what President Trump had seemingly threatened on Sunday, when he said he would demand a full investigation into whether the feds had “infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes.” Mr. Trump and Congressional Republicans have been playing up the issue in recent days, arguing that initial FBI efforts to find out what Russia was doing with relation to the Trump Campaign, was actually an effort to undermine Mr. Trump’s bid for the White House. But Democrats say what’s going on now is an effort by Mr. Trump and his allies in the Congress to undermine the current investigation, by allowing the President’s lawyers to see what evidence the Special Counsel’s office – and maybe U.S. Intelligence – had been able to gather during the 2016 campaign. Giuliani removes all doubt – the White House effort to force DOJ to give investigatory materials to Congress is really about the defense team getting their hands on them. If the President is charged with a crime, he has a right to see the evidence. Not before. https://t.co/HfzzdZ894d — Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 21, 2018 The Monday meeting at the White House came as Republicans stepped up demands for documents about the investigation, as Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), asked the Justice Department for information on contacts between officials and former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who put together a controversial ‘dossier’ on the President, funded by Democratic sources. In a letter to Rosenstein, Grassley zeroed in Monday on Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, and his contacts with Steele. “Accordingly, please provide all records related to Mr. Ohr’s communications about these matters, including: (1) emails from Mr. Ohr’s personal and work accounts, (2) phone logs, (3) handwritten notes, and (4) text messages from personal and work accounts,” Grassley wrote in a letter.
  • Days after Friday’s deadly school shooting at Santa Fe High School, school districts in the Houston area are re-evaluating their policies and are increasing security. Aldine Independent School District told KTRK medal detectors and ID scans will be used at single entry points at all of its schools. The district also has cameras at every campus and drills are held throughout the year. At Bay City ISD, backpacks will be banned this week and will have increased security, KTRK reported. Many districts, like Clear Creek ISD, Pearland ISD and Cy-Fair ISD,  will increase police presence at campuses and other buildings. >> Read more trending news  Cy-Fair is also outlawing trench coats and other heavy clothing that could conceal weapons, KTRK reported. Texas City School District has asked that students don’t bring bags or purses to school if they don’t have to, and the bags that are brought could be searched. District officials have also asked parents to monitor their child’s social media accounts. If students see a post that could be suspicious, officials ask them to tell a parent or trusted adult, KTRK reported. For more on what other districts that surround Santa Fe ISD are doing, click here.
  • The National Rifle Association’s incoming president has linked school shootings and other violence to using medications such as Ritalin. Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North told “Fox News Sunday” that perpetrators of school violence “have been drugged in many cases” and “many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.” He also blamed a “culture where violence is commonplace,” pointing to TV and movies. North’s comments followed the attack Friday at Santa Fe High School outside Houston that left eight students and two teachers dead. Investigators have given no indication that they believe the 17-year-old suspect, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, used Ritalin, which treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or other drugs. Pagourtzis’ attorney, Nicholas Poehl, said Sunday that he was not aware that his client was on any specific medication. He said he was surprised that someone with North’s experience with the criminal justice system would “make those kind of generalizations with a case that’s less than 48 hours old.” An NRA spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam, confirmed North was speaking on the organization’s behalf and said “there are others who share this viewpoint.”
  • An “explosive eruption” happened at Kilauea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island early Monday, prompting officials to warn residents to protect themselves from ash fallout as the Kilauea volcano eruption continues into its third week. >> Read more trending news More than 40 structures have been destroyed in the eruption that started May 3. It has since inundated almost 325 acres around Kilauea with lava and lead to concerns about laze, a toxic mixture of lava and haze that forms when hot lava hits ocean waters. Update 12:35 p.m. EDT May 21: Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said early Monday that a small explosion happened just before 1 a.m. local time at the Halemaumau crater at Kilauea's summit. The explosion shot ash about 7,000 feet into the air. 'Additional explosive events that could produce minor amounts of ashfall downwind are possible at any time,' USGS officials said. The Hawaiian County Civil Defense Agency warned residents to be aware of ashfall after the 'explosive eruption.' Update 12:38 p.m. May 20: Lava from the Kilauea volcano has crossed Highway 137 and entered the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaii County Civil Defense said Sunday. A second lava flow is about 437 yards from the highway, the Star Advertiser of Honolulu reported. Big Island residents may now have to contend with laze -- a mixture of lava and haze -- that forms when hot lava hits the ocean, CNN reported. After making contact with the water, the laze sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air. Laze can lead to lung, eye and skin irritation, CNN reported. 'This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows,' the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory wrote on its website. Officials have told people to avoid areas where lava meets the ocean, CNN reported. Powerful eruptions accompanied by thunderous booms punctuated the air Friday around Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. The volcano spewed lava bombs the size of cows as molten rock flowed from several of the 22 fissures that have opened around the volcano.  Update 2 a.m. EDT May 19: Fast-moving lava isolated about 40 homes in a rural subdivision, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters, the Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported. According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, police, firefighters and National Guard troops were stopping people from entering the area. Update 11:30 p.m. EDT May 18: Hawaiian authorities have sent the National Guard, police and fire units into the East Rift Zone in Puna, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency. “There are approximately 40 homes in the area that are isolated. Officials are gaining access by helicopter to the area to assess how many people are there and if they need assistance. All persons in that area are asked to stay where they are and wait for further instructions,” the agency said on its website. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has confirmed another fissure opened on Friday, bringing the total number of fissures to 22.  Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as Kilauea continues its violent eruptions. Update 8:30 a.m. EDT May 18:  More lava is spewing  from the Kilauea volcano as the 21st fissure opened Thursday, CNN reported. Meanwhile, state officials have been handing out masks to protect people who live near Kilauea, ABC News reported. About 18,000 masks have been distributed, CNN reported. The safety measure protects residents from breathing in pieces of rock, glass and crystals that fall as the volcano continues to erupt, ABC News reported. Update 10:45 p.m. EDT May 17: Lava is erupting from points along the fissure system on Kilauea volcano, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but the agency is calling it a “low-level eruption” at this point.  Although lava is still spattering from Fissure 17, the flow has not advanced significantly over the past day, the USGS said. There are currently 18 fissures that have opened due to seismic activity on Kilauea’ over the past two weeks.  Volcanic gas emission are still elevated throughout the area and residents are urged to remain on alert.  “This eruption is still evolving and additional outbreaks of lava are possible. Ground deformation continues and seismicity remains elevated in the area,” the USGS reported late Thursday.  Rain on the Big Island Thursday helped the situation with the ashfall, but volcano experts are warning the situation on Kilauea is  still very dynamic. Original report: Several schools were closed as ash continued to fall Thursday due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels. Officials warned people in the area to take shelter and protect themselves from the falling ash. >> Here's how to help victims of Hawaii volcano, earthquakes 'The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area,' officials with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a 5 a.m. alert. In a subsequent update, USGS officials said the ash plume was moving to the northeast. The plume could be seen in an image taken from a webcam at the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. 'Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves,' the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency warned. Michelle Coombs, of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, told Hawaii News Now that the situation remained “very, very active and very dynamic,” on Thursday. “The potential for larger explosions is still there,” she said. Officials with the USGS warned Tuesday that an eruption of Kilauea's volcano appeared 'imminent.' >> Red alert declared on Hawaii’s Big Island; major Kilauea eruption ‘imminent’ The eruption on Kilauea began May 3. It has since forced thousands of people from their homes, destroyed nearly 40 structures -- including dozens of homes -- and created more than two dozen fissures in the ground surrounding the volcano. Check back for updates to this developing story.