This article is the latest installment of a series. Read earlier chapters and learn more about the “Tom Brown’s Body” series and podcast.

Tom Brown’s Body is a Texas Monthly production. Executive producer is Megan Creydt. Produced and engineered by Brian Standefer, who also wrote the music. Additional production on this episode by Harper Carlton and Patrick Michels. J. K. Nickell is our editor and Paul Knight is our fact-checker. Our theme music is “No Hard Feelings” by the Avett Brothers. I’m your writer and host, Skip Hollandsworth. If you liked the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.


Philip Klein: I think we’re fixing to get the signal; we’re good. We’re getting the signal? Okay. Stand by just a minute. Everybody good? Everybody shaking good? Okay. Ready?

It’s late October, 2021, and two hundred people are packed into a meeting hall in the small town of Canadian, Texas, to hear the latest news regarding Tom Brown, who mysteriously disappeared nearly five years earlier.

Philip Klein: “All right—good evening, ladies and gentlemen; my name is Philip Klein. I’m the senior investigator from a company called Klein Investigations and Consulting and Texas Professional Bodyguards LLC out of Nederland, Texas. . . .”

You’ll recall that Klein is the outspoken private investigator who works for Tom’s mother, Penny. And the buzz around the room is that Klein has organized this town hall meeting to deliver new bombshell information about what really happened to Tom.

Philip Klein: . . . And it’s very important that you guys listen to what I say tonight. I think they were panicked, as they realized we were going to release some new information that’s never been released about the Tom Brown case today, including a possible manner of death. We have kept that very silent, and we’re going to kind of go through that tonight.

Of course, this is not the first time Klein has made such promises. There have been plenty of bombshell revelations in this complicated and tragic story. I’m Skip Hollandsworth from Texas Monthly, and this is Tom Brown’s Body. Episode Nine: “Another Day in Canadian.”

If you’ve forgotten some of the details of this story, let me give you a brief recap.

On the night before Thanksgiving, 2016, Tom went cruising around town with his friends. Just before midnight, he said goodbye. He drove away in his Dodge Durango, apparently headed home. The next morning, his Durango was found on the outskirts of town, next to the water-treatment plant. But despite numerous searches, there was no sign of Tom.

Tom’s disappearance became the mystery of the Texas Panhandle. Rumors flew that he had run away. Or that he had been kidnapped and sold to a sex-trafficking ring. It was said he had been murdered, stuffed into a wood chipper by a notorious methamphetamine dealer. Or he had been murdered by one of the friends who had gone cruising with him. There were dark, ugly stories that the county’s young sheriff, Nathan Lewis, was involved in Tom’s disappearance. Or even that members of Tom’s family knew far more about what had happened than they were letting on.

But none of the physical evidence seemed to make any sense. In February 2017, three months after Tom had vanished, his backpack was found sitting upright off Lake Marvin Road, a few miles north of town. Eight months later, in October 2017, his iPhone was found during a search of Lake Marvin Road that had been organized by Philip Klein. Incredibly, the phone was in perfect condition. It showed no signs of damage from rain or ice storms, which meant it had to have been planted shortly before the search began.

In early 2018, the state’s attorney general’s office in Austin took over the investigation. Almost a year later, Tom’s skull and a few of his bones were found at the end of Lake Marvin Road. But because so little was left of his remains, an autopsy could not determine the cause of death. The investigation seemed to be stalled for good. Then, in the late summer of 2020, just as we were wrapping the podcast, there were rumors that the attorney-general investigators wanted the local district attorney to call a grand jury. Yet those rumors went nowhere. In the months that followed, every time I called my sources, I was told that the grand jury had been delayed. I began to wonder if anyone would ever learn the truth about what had happened to Tom.

In the meantime, Philip Klein let everyone know he was still pursuing leads. At one point, he said he had received information that Tom had been accidentally shot by another teenager in the parking lot of the high school football stadium—and that the teenager’s father, as well as Sheriff Lewis, had helped hide Tom’s body to avoid a scandal.

This past fall, word spread through Canadian that Klein would be calling a town hall meeting. Just about everyone assumed he would announce the names of the teenager and the father who were involved in the parking-lot shooting. Indeed, as the meeting began, Klein teased that he was ready to reveal everything. 

Philip Klein: And we’re gonna tell you about the manner of death. Which, impossible . . . But we’re gonna show you the manner of death tonight, that we—and it’s not theory, folks. It’s fact, okay? All this damn conjecture I get all the time. “Oh, that’s theory”; “Oh no, it’s fact.” Fact!

At the meeting, Tom’s family sat in the front row. Before going any further, Klein made a point of introducing them.

Philip Klein: Penny, would you please stand up? This is Penny Meek. For those of you that do not know Penny, Penny is the mother of Thomas Brown. Chris Meek? Chris? Chris is the stepfather, and, you know, probably one of the nicest men I think I’ve ever met in my life, that has been so cordial. Third is my friend Tucker Brown; that’s Tom’s brother. I have asked them to come sit up here tonight ’cause I want you all to look into the white of their eyes.

Klein knew that there were plenty of people in the audience who were suspicious of Penny, who is a longtime elementary school teacher in Canadian. But as Klein told the crowd all he had done to find out what had happened to Tom, he insisted, over and over, that he had found nothing—not a single piece of evidence—implicating Penny, Chris, or Tucker. 

Philip Klein: Where I want the public to see that these people had nothing to do with the disappearance of Tom. I want you to see these folks not as people of . . . that are what we call, in the business, “antagonists.” They are anything but that. These people are true victims.

Finally, he came to the part of his presentation about new evidence. I noticed people inching forward in their seats.

Philip Klein: Here you go, folks. Fact! Not Philip Klein. Fact.

To absolutely everyone’s surprise, Klein didn’t say a word about the theory of the parking-lot killing. He declared that he and his team of investigators had been talking to another witness who had a whole new story to tell about Tom’s death.

Philip Klein: I want you to hear what this boy says, and then compare it to what I just told you, which is fact!

The witness’ name was Chris Jones. You might remember him from an earlier episode of the podcast. In the fall of 2016, Tom was still playing football for the Canadian High Wildcats. Chris was one of his teammates. He was a talented running back who had just moved to Canadian from a nearby town. But Chris was also a troubled kid. He got into fights and was eventually kicked out of high school after that 2016 season. A couple of years later, he was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to thirty years in prison.

Caroline Gear: Hold on, hold on, okay, so Nathan’s the one that asked you to come and play there?

Chris Jones: He’s the one who told me, he told me that I had to go play football for Canadian.

Caroline Gear: Okay, keep going.

Klein said that one of his top investigators, Caroline Gear—who also happened to be Klein’s daughter—began talking to Chris after he was sent to prison. Chris told her that Sheriff Lewis had come to see him before the 2016 football season began. According to Chris, Lewis told him that he wanted him to transfer to Canadian and play football for the Wildcats. Lewis also said the consequences would be dire if he didn’t transfer.

Here’s Chris talking long-distance to Caroline Gear on a prison telephone. This call is hard to hear, but you’ll get the gist.

Chris Jones: I was like, I’m not going to go to school in Canadian. You know, I lived there about [unclear] . . . That’s why I came to school in Higgins. And he was like, if you don’t do that, he was gonna kill me.

What Chris is saying is that Lewis had told the teenager he’d be killed if he didn’t move to town and play for the Canadian Wildcats. Chris went on to tell Gear that Sheriff Lewis was working for a local gambling ring that wanted Chris to play well in certain games and deliberately throw other games so they could collect big on their bets. Chris had just joined the team. And he said that after the Wildcats lost a game that the gamblers expected them to win, Lewis picked him up and took him to the Walking Bridge, a local landmark.

Chris Jones: . . . By the train tracks. Nobody can see you; you can’t hear nothing. And he pulled a gun on me. And he’s like, “I’m gonna kill you.” You know, he cocked the gun back . . .

Chris said that Sheriff Lewis let him go, but made it clear that Chris would be shot the next time he didn’t follow orders. Chris then claimed that in the early evening hours of Thanksgiving Day—less than 24 hours after Tom had disappeared—Lewis came to see him again. That weekend, the Wildcats were in the state football playoffs, and Chris said that Lewis told him the gamblers were banking on a Wildcat victory.  

Chris Jones: And he was like, I’m gonna show you something. I need to show you something that’s going to encourage you to play better and win that state championship. And I’m like, what you got to show me?

Chris said Lewis wanted to show him something that would encourage him to play better. 

Chris Jones: He pushed me in the back of his cop car. And he’s like, “Here, put on this pair of goggles,” and I put them on.

He said Lewis put him in the back of a police car and handed him a pair of goggles.

Chris Jones: We’re going like towards the [unclear] yard. And thirty minutes later, you know, he pulls up and it’s like pitch dark. And he’s like, “Are you ready?” I’m like, “Man what’s going on?” So I take off the goggles and he hits these lights, and there’s Tom’s sitting in front of us—there’s Tom’s sitting in front of us; he’s in a chair . . .

Chris went on to say that, in the light, he could see Tom—still alive—sitting in front of them in a chair. Chris said that next to Tom he saw Pyne Gregory, the sheriff’s deputy, with a hat on his head and a gun in his hand.

Caroline Gear: And when he took the goggles off, are you telling me that Thomas was still alive? 

Chris Jones: Yeah, when he took the goggles off me . . .

Chris said he never saw Tom again. So, had Sheriff Lewis and deputy Pyne Gregory murdered Tom to please a local gambling ring? At the town hall meeting in October, that’s exactly what Klein speculated.

Philip Klein: Chris Jones is an integral part in the Tom Brown case. He’s been interviewed how many times?

Caroline Gear: Five, by me.

Philip Klein: Five times! And his story hasn’t changed once. And his point is, “You know what, I got nothing to lose. I’m gonna tell the truth.” That’s what he’s told that lady right there.

Many in the audience were stunned—and angered—that Klein expected them to believe such an incredible story. Tom hadn’t been on the football team for more than a month at that point. And he wasn’t even close to Chris in any way. But kidnapping Tom was supposed to inspire Chris to play harder and win a playoff football game?

Furious with Klein, some members of the audience let loose.

Man: You need to get out of Canadian, Klein.

Woman: You should stop throwing splatter at a board, or at a wall, okay?

But Klein was not backing down.

Philip Klein: I see it; I hear it. I hear your pain. I hear your anger. I’m sorry I have to show you corruption in your city. I’m sorry if you’re angry with me, if you’re angry with my crew. I’m sorry. But we’re not here, like I said earlier, to make you feel good. We’re here to figure out how an eighteen-year-old died. And let me tell y’all something. Let me tell you this. I want all of you to think: What if it was your child? Would you want someone like me investigating it? We’re the only people that have found anything. Why? ’Cause we get out on the street and we’re busting our ass. We don’t sit in an office. We don’t go down to the Poke and Run and have coffee. We get out there with our water bottles, and we get our butts out there in the streets and we find out what’s going on.

The day after the meeting, everyone of course was talking about Klein’s latest story.

Chris Samples: Welcome in to the program; it is Thursday, October the twenty-first. Last night, coach, Klein Investigations, Philip Klein, the private investigator hired by the . . .

Panhandle radio host Chris Samples spent his entire three-hour morning show lambasting the private investigator.

Chris Samples: Try to get your brain around this one. This one is the latest shared by Philip Klein and his team of investigators last night. Sheriff Lewis and deputy Pyne Gregory pick Chris Jones, who’s now in prison, up, and they take him, blindfolded, on a thirty-minute drive. When they get out to wherever they were, they remove the blindfold, and Jones testifies that he sees out in front of car, the day after Tom Brown went missing, Tom Brown tied to a chair in front of the cop car. And former deputy Pyne Gregory has a gun to Tom Brown’s head. Is that not the most bizarre thing?

Officials from the state attorney general’s office were so disturbed by Klein’s comments that they finally agreed to allow their lead investigator in the case, Sergeant Rachel Kading, to sit down with me for an interview. During the two years I’ve followed this story, I’ve asked Kading for interviews at least a dozen times. But this is the first interview she’s ever given to anyone about Tom’s disappearance and death.

Skip Hollandsworth: You’ve agreed to sit down. Why is that?

Rachel Kading: I think that collectively as a group, at the AG’s office, we just felt that it was important to put out some facts. There’s been a lot of stories. There’s been a lot of discrepancies. There’s been just a lot of conjecture in the case, and it harmed it, honestly.

I asked Kading about one of Klein’s stories: that Tom possibly had been shot in the football stadium parking lot.

Skip Hollandsworth: Did you come across any evidence suggesting something like that might have happened?

Rachel Kading: No.

Skip Hollandsworth: Is there any evidence that Tom went up to the football parking lot?

Rachel Kading: There is no evidence that he went to the football parking lot.

I then asked Kading about Klein’s newest theory—that Chris Jones had seen Tom tied to a chair while a deputy sheriff held a gun to his head.

Rachel Kading: No; absolutely no evidence. And, as a matter of fact, Chris Jones has told multiple stories over the years. He is a very unreliable witness.

Skip Hollandsworth: What were other stories Chris Jones told you or others about what happened that night?

Rachel Kading: I mean, the one that sticks out is, he told the sheriff’s office at some point that two Hispanic people in town were responsible for this death and that it was connected to the Mexican Mafia, or to a cartel. That these two individuals found out that he may know something about it; that they basically kidnapped him, strapped him to a chair; that they shot him up with drugs and told him that if he ever told anybody, that they would kill him.

Skip Hollandsworth: And you found yourself investigating to see if that story was true?

Rachel Kading: Yes, we looked into every story.

Skip Hollandsworth: And?

Rachel Kading: Not true.

So I asked Kading, what did she think happened on Thanksgiving eve 2016?

Rachel Kading: I don’t think we can go there. We have theories, obviously.

Skip Hollandsworth: So, you have a theory.

Rachel Kading: Yes, but it’s—

Skip Hollandsworth: But you’re not going to go public with it.

Rachel Kading: No; it’s irresponsible to do so.

The attorney general’s office, however, did release a 249-page report that Kading had compiled about the case, which perhaps offered a few hints about what she was thinking.

Skip Hollandsworth: In your report that comes out, scattered throughout the report, seem to be several questions about Tom’s own family, that they might not be telling everything they knew about what happened that night.

Rachel Kading: Correct.

Skip Hollandsworth: That’s correct.

Rachel Kading: Yes.

In fact, her written report mentioned the lie detector tests that Penny and her husband Chris agreed to take in 2018, not long after Kading got involved in the case.

Skip Hollandsworth: But in a lie detector test that Penny agreed to give, you wrote that she, quote, “showed signs of deception on questions regarding Tom Brown’s location.” What do you mean by that?

Rachel Kading: So, I don’t know if the general public is really familiar with how polygraphs work, but there’s usually a battery of questions. So in one of the batteries of questions, it was about the possibility that Tom was deceased. And one of the questions was, “Do you know the current location of his body?”

Skip Hollandsworth: And her answer was registered by the lie detector examiner as deceptive.

Rachel Kading: Yes.

Skip Hollandsworth: Chris Meek, her husband, was asked the same set of questions, correct?

Rachel Kading: Correct.

Skip Hollandsworth: And what was the result of his answers?

Rachel Kading: He showed deception.

Skip Hollandsworth: Your report also says that Chris’s whereabouts on November twenty-fourth—the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day—were unknown or uncorroborated. Did you ever find out where Chris was?

Rachel Kading: We were told that he was home all night.

Skip Hollandsworth: And did you find any evidence that suggested he was not home all night?

Kading said nothing. She did not answer the question. Maybe there was something about Chris’s activities that night that she didn’t want to give away.

During our interview, Kading said that there was another issue involving the family that troubled her. It had to do with Tom’s iPhone. You might remember that only weeks after that fateful Thanksgiving eve, Penny had asked a couple of Tom’s friends if they knew the password to Tom’s phone, which was then still believed to be missing. Why, Kading wanted to know, would Penny ask for the phone’s password unless she had the phone in her possession all along? And if she did have her son’s phone, how exactly did she get it? Had Penny  taken the phone from Tom the night he disappeared? And did she, months later, plant the phone by Lake Marvin Road, where it was found?

Kading decided to have the polygraph examiner ask Penny and Chris about the phone.

Skip Hollandsworth: Well, explain the lie detector test: “Showed signs of deception” on the question regarding possession. What was the question asked them?

Rachel Kading: If they possessed Tom’s phone after his disappearance.

Skip Hollandsworth: And they said no.

Rachel Kading: Yes.

Skip Hollandsworth: And that came across as deception on the examiner’s report.

Rachel Kading: Yes. I believe only on Penny’s, not on Chris’s.

When I talked to Penny about all this a year ago, she told me it was the sheriff’s department that had asked her to find the passcode. Kading says that’s not true. 

Rachel Kading: There’s no evidence that the sheriff’s office asked her for the passcode.

Kading also asked Tom’s brother Tucker if he too would take a lie detector test.

Skip Hollandsworth: Tucker was asked by you to take a lie detector test. Is that correct?

Rachel Kading: That’s correct.

Skip Hollandsworth: And he did not take one. Is that correct?

Rachel Kading: He did not. We were told that he would not be taking one. 

When I had talked to Tucker more than a year ago, he had told me the reason he wouldn’t sit for a polygraph examination was because such tests are very unreliable. In fact, lie detector test results aren’t permitted in court as evidence. Tucker said he was already so distraught over Tom’s death that he was worried his answers would come across as evasive.

If a grand jury had been called, Kading possibly could have gotten more answers out of Tom’s family. During our interview, she did confirm rumors that she had spoken with the county’s district attorney, Franklin McDonough, about the possibility of convening a grand jury to look into Tom’s death.

Rachel Kading: When we kind of came to the end of the case and we really weren’t sure, still, what had happened, but we knew that people were lying—somebody has to be lying in this case—we discussed having an investigational grand jury. And that process is, you bring in all witnesses; they testify under oath. Our hope at that time was that if we did this, maybe the truth would come out. Or we would discover new evidence, or we would discover there were more witnesses, there were other people we could talk to.

Choosing her words carefully, she explained to me why there had been so much uncertainty around calling a grand jury.

Rachel Kading: Basically, the discussion was that even though this was going to be an investigational grand jury, that multiple indictments were likely, and that it was not felt that that was the ethical thing to do at this time. If you go through a grand jury and you have an indictment, but you don’t have enough to convict somebody at trial, it’s just not ethical to do that. So it was decided that we would not do the grand jury for that reason, and we would just continue to work on the case.

Skip Hollandsworth: Well, wait a second. You had multiple indictments that could be made. You were certain of that?

Rachel Kading: I mean, I can’t say with one hundred percent certainty that there would be indictments, but it was the feeling of myself, other members of the investigative team, and the district attorney’s office that there would be multiple indictments.

Skip Hollandsworth: And how many people are we talking about being indicted? Can’t answer that?

Rachel Kading: No.

Skip Hollandsworth: And what would they be indicted for?

Rachel Kading: I won’t answer that either.

Skip Hollandsworth: And . . . Why wouldn’t you let people see what you had? Even if it didn’t lead to a conviction in a trial? What’s unethical about that?

Rachel Kading: What’s unethical about it is that if you do not feel that the indictment is going to lead to a conviction at trial, you are really shorting the case. So, let’s just say, a hypothetical. So you get somebody indicted for a homicide. And then you go to trial for that homicide. and you are not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that person is responsible for that homicide, you can never try that person again. You’re done, that’s it. So you can go get indictments, which are very easy to get, but to not have the trial evidence, it’s unethical and it doesn’t serve the victim. And that’s, that’s our focus. Our focus is Thomas Brown.

So the district attorney and the state attorney general’s office actually considered indictments of multiple people. But who? Did they believe Tom had been killed by more than one person? Or did they believe something else had happened to Tom—maybe something that was covered up by members of his family?

You might remember from earlier episodes of the podcast that I spoke to various people about Tom’s personal struggles. In the months before his death, he unexpectedly had quit the football team and broken up with his girlfriend. He had told a few close friends he was afraid that people in Canadian would hear that he sometimes liked wearing adult diapers. I also learned that a couple of hours before Tom disappeared on Thanksgiving eve, he did a Google search on his phone for suicide hotlines.

Penny did tell me that Kading had told her that she suspected the family had found Tom’s body after he killed himself, and that out of a sense of shame they had moved his body, hoping no one would find him. Penny told Kading that she was mistaken. And when I went to see Penny in October, the day after Klein’s meeting, she remained adamant that she, Chris, and Tucker had not moved Tom’s body.

Penny Meek: And so, I guess people—people are always going to think what they want to think, in every circumstance. Everybody’s going to have an opinion. If that’s the opinion you want to have of me, then, I guess, so be it. I’m not going to argue with you to try to change your opinion, because I know at the end of the day, or when I have to look at myself in the mirror at the nighttime, or when I get up in the morning, I didn’t do anything to my son. He didn’t—Tucker did not do anything to Thomas. My husband did not do anything to Thomas. That’s just ludicrous.

Penny insisted to me that she still has no idea how Tom died or how his body ended up off Lake Marvin Road. I asked her if she has ever been to the spot where Tom’s remains were found.   

Penny Meek: I don’t even know where it is, to be honest. I don’t know where it is. So how can you accuse me of doing something to my son when I don’t even know where he was? You know, at the end of the day, I know the truth about that. I don’t know the truth about what happened to Thomas, but I know the truth about where I was. I know the truth about where Chris was. I know the truth about where he was.

During our conversation, Penny was sitting with Tucker at the dining room table. Chris was at work. I asked Penny how she was doing, living in a town where everyone talks about her.

Skip Hollandsworth: Do you feel like people want you to quit and leave town so people will forget, so Canadian can get past the Tom Brown episode?

Penny Meek: Yes. I think they would be very happy.

I asked her how Chris was feeling.

Skip Hollandsworth: Has he said, “You know what, I’m tired of the public scrutiny, let’s get out of Canadian?”

Penny Meek: Oh yeah, we talk about it.

Skip Hollandsworth: And what’s your answer at this point?

Penny Meek: Oh . . . I don’t know.

Tucker jumped in. 

Tucker Brown: I mean, this has been our home for four gener—I mean, am I the fifth?

Penny Meek: Yeah.

Tucker Brown: I’m the fifth-generation person from Canadian. I mean, this has been our home for a hundred years. It’s kind of hard to pick up and leave that.

Skip Hollandsworth: Sure is. Well, what do you want to do next with your life? Other than have reporters like me come up and show up at your dining room table?

Penny Meek: Um, I don’t know. I’m probably just going to keep doing what I’m doing. Just going to keep teaching school and doing whatever I can to bring answers for Thomas.

Skip Hollandsworth: There was a moment last night when I thought, “This story will never come to an end.” Has that occurred to you?

Penny Meek: Yes.

Tucker Brown: Every day.

Penny Meek: Yep.

Skip Hollandsworth: Meaning what?

Tucker Brown: Every day I think we may not know anything, ever.

Skip Hollandsworth: There’s got to be an answer. How can this case go unsolved?

Penny Meek: I have no idea.

Tucker Brown: We have no idea.

When I talked to Kading, it was clear she didn’t know whether the case would ever be solved either.

Skip Hollandsworth: So up in Canadian, as we speak, right now, half that town thinks he was murdered. Part of the town thinks he committed suicide. Part of the town thinks it could be an accidental death. Do you see any hope that new evidence is going to emerge? That somebody’s going to talk?

Rachel Kading: I always hope that that will happen, and I’ll never lose that hope. It could be five years from today. It could be the ten-year anniversary. It could be the twenty-year anniversary. Every victim is important, and this case is no different than that. So the door is always open at our office for any information, for anything that will bring resolution to this case. We hope for that every day.

Skip Hollandsworth: Well, good luck on that. I think you’re going to need it.

Rachel Kading: Probably, yeah.

As for Penny, she says she’s not giving up on her investigation, either. She still employs Philip Klein to look for evidence that Tom was murdered. This past Thanksgiving eve, on the fifth anniversary of Tom’s disappearance, Penny, Chris, Tucker, and a few friends gathered outside the district attorney’s office. They held signs that read “Justice for Thomas Brown.” Penny told me she was still hoping to persuade the district attorney to convene a grand jury and force witnesses to testify under oath. I was simply bewildered. If Penny and her family seemed to be the target of the attorney general’s investigation, why would they want a grand jury to be convened? Were they convinced that another story line might emerge?

At the least, Penny told me, she would like to give her son a proper burial. But because the investigation into Tom’s death has not been officially closed, the attorney general’s office says it’s obligated to maintain possession of Tom’s remains.

Skip Hollandsworth: There’s nothing you can do, right?

Penny Meek: I mean, our hands are tied. What am I going to do? Go down—am I going to go find Rachel in Austin and say, you know, what? “Give me those damn remains?” What am I going to do? She’s not. It’s not going to happen. I’m just wasting my time. 

Before I left Canadian, I drove by some of the town’s landmarks. There was a junior high school football game going on at the stadium. Over at the Walking Bridge, I watched a freight train hurtle down the tracks. I headed to Main Street, and stopped at an empty lot. I stared at one of the signs that had been put up there soon after Tom disappeared. On the sign were two sentences: “There is a killer among us. Please pray that Tom’s killer is found and brought to justice.” And at the bottom of the sign was Tom’s photo. He was wearing glasses. His brown hair was brushed over his forehead, and he was giving the camera a gentle smile.

Read more from the Tom Brown’s Body Series:

Chapter 1: A Pretty Little Place

Chapter 2: Tom’s Loop

Chapter 3: “Evil Has Come to Canadian, Texas”

Chapter 4: Lake Marvin Road

Chapter 5: Unusual Suspects

Chapter 6: The Thicket

Chapter 7: The Wake

Chapter 8: The Remains