Raleigh police are hoping to get in touch with the person who left them an anonymous tip saying he or she had seen a man who went missing one night nearly two years ago.
The tipster wrote on the Raleigh police website that Andrew “Drew” Browne was seen walking with a rifle near the former Palms Apartments off Lake Boone Trail after sunrise early one morning in May 2014.
That suggests that Browne survived the night he ran from police with a rifle and a handgun. Browne, who was 23 at the time, hasn’t been seen since.
An article in The News & Observer on March 13 about the search for Browne and his family’s hopes that he is still alive generated three tips to police, said Zeke Morse, the detective in charge of the case. The tip about seeing Browne during daylight hours is the most promising, Morse said.
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“The tipster did not leave their information,” Morse said. “I really would like to talk with them about this.”
Browne was being treated for heroin addiction and had run out of the drug used to control his cravings for heroin when he disappeared. About 10 p.m. on May 23, 2014, his parents returned to their apartment on Thomas Road, off Lake Boone Trail, to find Browne with the guns, agitated, saying he was going to collect some money that was owed to him.
When Browne wouldn’t put down the guns and tried to leave on his brother’s motorcycle with them, his mother called police. When an officer arrived, Browne took off on foot into the woods, toward Martin Middle School, still carrying the guns.
The last anyone heard from Browne that night was a cellphone call that was later traced to a gazebo overlooking a pond on Wycliff Road, across from the Lake Boone shopping center. After the call, police reported hearing a single gunshot, suggesting that Browne might have taken his own life.
But his body never turned up, despite extensive searches by police and his family. The tip from someone saying they saw Browne during daylight hours suggests the gunshot was not his suicide.
But the tip was vague in some areas, Morse said. It did not specify which morning Browne was seen, and the location wasn’t clear.
The tipster wrote: “He was near the woods at the belt line corner red brick building. I saw him walk down amongst the apartments towards on the right ( if you come off the belt line from cary/ not the gray ones near Rex.).”
It’s a tantalizing lead, and after nearly two years with few of them to chase, Morse hopes the tipster gets back in touch with him.
How to help
The Browne family is offering a reward for information that leads to the whereabouts of their son Drew. If you know anything, call the Raleigh Police Department’s Tip Line at 919-834-4357 or visit raleighcrimestoppers.org for text and email reporting options.