A missing law student, the mother of three children, was found shot to death in a vacant lot near Detroit's abandoned Packard Plant, less than two days after being reported missing by her family.
Tiane Brown, a third-year law student at Wayne State University's Law School, was last seen on Monday at 8:15 p.m. at the campus in Midtown Detroit. Her parents, who live in the suburb of West Bloomfield, called authorities at 4 a.m. after Brown failed to return home to pick up her three children. Her body was discovered Wednesday in her burgundy Chevy Trailblazer SUV, which had a personalized license plate spelling out "TIANE."
Two suspects have been taken into custody, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Detroit. He also confirmed that Tiane had been shot, although he offered no further details. But he urged the community to come forward with more information.
"We are desperately asking for your help," Detroit's police chief said. Right now, he said, police don't have a motive or know why her death occurred. Police did not initially suspect foul play when Brown was reported missing, according to several news reports.
Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson called Brown's death a "devastating loss" for the academic community. The mother of three had an undergraduate degree in biological sciences and two master's degrees, Wilson said. She worked as a law clerk at the Michigan office of the Rader, Fishman & Grauer law firm while attending law school. Tiane was also president of the Wayne Intellectual Property Student Association and a board member of the Developing K.I.D.S. nonprofit, which works with underprivileged kids in the Detroit area.
"She was a model Wayne State student," Wilson said.
Police Chief Craig said that homicides had decreased 14 percent in Detroit in 2013. Nevertheless, he called Tiane's death a "tragedy."
"We hope that your listeners are angry and your viewers are angry," he said at the press conference, "because this should not have happened. And many of the 273 homicides that have happened this year in Detroit should not have happened."
A vigil is planned for Tiane Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the courtyard area on the Gilmour Mall (formerly Ferry Mall) side of the law school campus, where all evening classes have been cancelled.
A statement sent to The Huffington Post by Jocelyn Benson, the law school's interim dean, said the school had planned to publish a feature story this week about Tiane and her work with the school's Business and Community Law Clinic and the Patent Procurement Clinic, as well as her community service. It reads, in part:
Although the words she spoke to the writer of the feature story just a few weeks ago now seem even more devastating, I believe they sum up the way Tiane would want to be remembered.
Tiane gave this quote when talking about her work on the Advisory Board for the nonprofit organization DevelopingKIDS:
“We want to help the children growing up in the city,” she said. “My cousin was killed in Detroit. He was 25. We grew up together; he was like my brother. Seeing his life taken away makes you realize how short life is. You need to live each day like it’s your last. That has helped me keep my focus. I stay involved because I want to make a difference.”
Living those words of making a difference is the best way we all can honor her memory.
Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Wayne State Police Department at 313-577-2224 or report tips anonymously at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.