Those who knew Arthur Lee Brown described him as talented, generous and charismatic, a man willing to share the meat from a newly killed hog with everyone in his rural community. They wonder why in the world anyone would want to kill him and his best friend, David Eugene McKoy.
Brown was 78; McKoy, 66. Wake County sheriff’s investigators ruled their deaths on July 19 a double homicide and have arrested three men.
The three are accused of robbing and killing Brown and McKoy at Brown’s home on Howard Road, off Wagstaff Road. Investigators believe the men were shot to death either late July 17 or the morning of July 18.
Deputies arrested Gregory Adalverto Crawford, 21, of Fuquay-Varina and Kevin Bernard Britt, 20, of Holly Springs on Saturday. The third man, Donovan Jevonte Richardson, 21, of Holly Springs surrendered at the Wake County jail Sunday morning.
Crawford, Britt and Richardson each face two counts of murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, burglary, and conspiracy to commit burglary.
The evident sadness and occasional laughter heard at Brown’s funeral last month was tempered by anger and calls for justice.
David McKoy’s nephew, James McKoy, a 48-year-old Cumberland County pastor, struck a vengeful note when he said, “I hope they catch the dogs who did this. I pray they don’t get no sleep. I pray when they look in the rearview mirror they see Arthur and David behind them.
“I pray when they cross the street someone walks up to them and says, ‘I know what you did last summer.’ ”
The pews at St. Augusta Missionary Baptist Church overflowed with more than 350 mourners, including Fuquay-Varina Mayor John W. Byrne.
“Fuquay-Varina is a lot like Camelot – a wonderful, wonderful place,” Byrne said. “Arthur Brown was one of those people who made it wonderful.”
Byrne described Brown as a true boulevardier – a man about town – “the dresser, who always polished up good” and seldom went anywhere without a sporting hat atop his head. Byrne noted that an official “Mayor of Fuquay-Varina” pin was affixed to the lapel of the suit that clothed Brown’s body at the funeral service.
“He deserved it,” Byrne said. “Everybody in Fuquay-Varina loved Arthur Brown. Arthur was a special man.”
The mayor described McKoy as a muscular man with Bunyanesque strength, who could lift a tree that took seven men to put into the bed of a truck.
McKoy worked in tandem with Brown doing jobs “that nobody else wanted to be bothered with,” said Byrne, who added that the two men “deeply … cared for one another.”
Brown and McKoy’s relationship had deepened in recent months after Brown’s sister in-law and McKoy’s mother both died of natural causes. Before his mother’s death, McKoy had split time living with her and Brown.
“They were like brothers,” James McKoy said. “We were trying to find my uncle an apartment, and Arthur told me, ‘Well, Rev., I don’t know. I don’t want David to have no apartment, because I don’t want nobody taking advantage of him.’ ”
Brown was a native of Waxhaw, grew up in Union County and was raised by his aunt and uncle after his parents died. He apprenticed under his uncle, Roosevelt Brown, in the cement and concrete trade and eventually started his own company, A.L. Brown Cement Contractor Grading & Hauling.
Brown and McKoy worked together for more than 35 years.
Giving back to the community where he lived and prospered was important to Brown.
In the 1980s, Brown lent Carl Trice, the funeral home director who buried him Sunday, $10,000 because he was having financial difficulty. Brown gave Trice the money even though he never asked for a loan.
“My daddy had just died,” said Trice, director of Trice Funeral Home in Fuquay-Varina. “He asked me what was the problem. I told him I was ‘money sick.’ He asked me what did I need and told me to meet him at the bank in the morning. I met him at 10:00 and he loaned me $10,000 without blinking an eye.”
Several years ago, Marion Funderburk was appointed pastor at Rogers Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church where Brown was a member.
“He was one of the first people I met,” Funderburk said. “He and his wife allowed me, my wife and our daughter to stay at their house for a little over a year. Not only that, but they didn’t charge me one, red cent. … He was good to me.”
Brown’s first cousin, Vincent Cassell, 62, of Virginia, heard what Funderburk said and softly murmured from the back of the church, “Arthur was good to everybody.”
An annual party
Two months before the shootings, McKoy moved in to Brown’s Howard Road home, a sprawling cream-colored house with a red-tin roof. The site remained a secured crime scene last week; yellow police tape encircled the home and Brown’s work trucks, trailers and heavy equipment. The sheep and goats that he sometimes kept in a pen in the backyard were gone.
Less than a month before the men died, Brown hosted a party at the home. It was an annual, daylong affair that attracted well over 100 people.
On July 19, Brown’s family members who lived near him on Howard Road called 911 to report the fatal shootings. A basement door had been kicked in, and several family members recalled a pre-dawn disturbance before finding Brown’s body stretched across his bed, dead of at least one gunshot wound.
“There were things thrown on the floor in the bedroom, like they were looking for something,” said Chelsea Elliot, Brown’s 20-year-old niece. “Was it money from the company, or did someone have it in for him?”
Brown’s family found McKoy’s body in a smaller room. Elliot said McKoy appeared to have been shot while he was still asleep because his blanket was still up to his chest.
Brown’s nephew, Carl Diggs, who also lives on Howard Road, thinks the killers knew the layout of the home. Diggs said surveillance cameras that flanked the front of Brown’s home had been disconnected and were pointed upward.