PHOENIX — It’s been nearly 17 years since investigators believe Jason Derek Brown executed an armored car guard and stole $56,000 outside an Ahwatukee movie theater.
It was the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, investigators said Brown is seen on surveillance outside the AMC off Ray Road near I-10 waiting to the side.
The black and white video is grainy, but it captures the next moments as investigators say Brown approached armored car guard Keith Palomares, shooting him five times, taking the bag of money in his hand and fleeing.
“It’s always the victim’s family, wanting closure and justice for them,” retired FBI Supervisory Agent Lance Leising said.
Leising retired from Phoenix’s FBI field office only a year ago. He was one of the first on the scene on November 29, 2004, when the crime happened.
For most of these last almost 17 years, Leising has been searching for Brown.
“I never thought he would be a fugitive this long. In fact, we were very close and likely should have arrested him,” Leising said.
When you ask Leising about the case, he easily recalls the details as if he had the case file right in front of him and talking about Brown as though he’s known him personally.
“He can be one thing one day, and another thing the next day,” Leising said.
Leising said there’s clear evidence to believe that Brown had a plan, and came to execute it that day.
“There was planning, there was surveillance, there were items purchased, he was out training in the desert practicing his shooting prior to the actual homicide,” Leising said.
Leising told the story of how Brown was out practicing shooting but hit a nearby truck door belonging to another man who was out with his son.
Leising said that after Brown is believed to have committed the crime in Ahwatukee, but before he was identified in public as the suspect, Brown sent the man a check and a gift card to a toy store for the man’s son to make up for the damage he caused.
“While he could assassinate an innocent armored car guard during a robbery, he was also image-conscious and wanted to be the good guy in the life of the party at the same time,” Leising said.
It’s two sides, Jami Brown-Martin, Jason Derek Brown’s sister, has seen herself.
“Still to this day, I just, I just can’t believe that he would do something like this,” Martin said. “Because he was such a kind, loving person.”
However, she said Brown has, what Martin calls, a dark side.
“Jason didn’t just wake up one day like this,” Martin said. “He was trained as a young child from the age of eight, nine years old to be a criminal.”
Martin said that ‘training’ came from their father who disappeared 10 years before Brown.
“My dad use to try and beat the bad out of him,” Martin said. “Because he knew he was just like my dad, and then he ended up becoming my dad’s little minion, helping him with all his dirty work.”
In the days before Brown was identified as the suspect, Martin said he came to her door and stayed for several days, never knowing what Brown was accused of doing.
“There was no indication of any sort that there was anything out of the ordinary going on,” Martin said.
Martin said the two spent several days together, until Brown came back one day from playing golf with his brother, and said he needed to leave.
Martin recalls how she talked with Brown as he calmly packed his stuff, and left.
“I remembered hugging him and I said, ‘When are you coming back?’ and he goes, ‘I’ll be back someday.’,” Martin said. “I remember him hugging me again, like a second hug, like a tighter hug. And then I just watched him drive off. And in the back of my head, I was thinking, ‘Why would he say something like that? Like someday?”
Someday, has turned into nearly 17 years.
“It’s torn my family apart,” Martin said.
Martin said while she’s found some closure through writing a book, “Center of Attention: A True Crime Memoir”, about their family history, and Brown’s alleged actions, she still is waiting for him to be caught.
“Jason will eventually be found one day,” Martin said.
Leising said they had tracked Brown to Portland in 2004, but he’s disappeared since.
Leising is still looking to see closure for Brown’s family, Keith’s family, and for the case.
“The FBI is not going to stop looking for him, Phoenix Police Department is not going to stop looking for him. He has to be getting help from somebody. He is not the type of personality that can just live in the middle of nowhere by himself for 17 years,” Leising said.
The FBI’s description of Brown says he’s fluent in French and has a master’s degree in International Business, adding he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and completed a Mormon mission in France.
“He is going to have assumed a different identity. He is going to tell somebody he is who he is not,” Leising said.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $200,000 for information leading to the arrest of Brown.
Anyone with tips is asked to submit them here.
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