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5 On Your Side: Devastating message sent to mother of dead child

6:16 PM, Aug 23, 2013   |    comments
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ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - It's a devastating, low blow aimed at a mother who lost a child.  

But who's behind the hateful e-mail?  Five on Your Side's Mike Rush investigates.  
    
The family wanted answers, and while not all of their questions can be answered, we were able get some helpful information.

In many ways, Ryan Brown was a typical little boy.  He loved soccer, four-wheelers and his family.

"He was probably one of the greatest things that ever happened to us," Ryan's dad, Phillip, said.

His parents, Phillip and Andrea, say the seemingly typical 5 year old was special.

"Even at his sickest," Phillip said, "he had a smile on his face and he died with a smile on his face."

Ryan died from cancer in 2005.  He was five years old.

"In all honesty, I don't know that anyone could hurt us any more than we already hurt," said Andrea.

But somebody sure tried. A few weekends ago, eight years after Ryan's death, Andrea got an e-mail out of the blue. Someone named Mona with a Yahoo account.

"Started off really nice and thinking that someone was telling us that they were sorry that it's been eight years that Ryan passed away," said Andrea.

But the message soon takes a sharp and tasteless turn stating, "He looked so relaxed, peaceful, calm and pain-free while he lay in state in his coffin. It was so hard to believe he was stiff in rigor mortis and wasn't just sleeping."

"I was pretty angry," said Phillip.  "It's just a lack of human respect that anybody would do this."

The writer goes on to say, "He should be hanging out with his friends, not having everyone's last memories of him laying dead in a coffin at his funeral and then dirt being thrown onto him after he was lowered into the ground."

It even makes references to Ryan being worm food.

"It's on your mind every second of every day but to actually have these images in your mind now, then every time you close your eyes, you think of that," said the mother. 

Mixed in with the grief and anger is curiosity. Who would do this? Was it somebody they knew? The family contacted Five On Your Side hoping for answers, so Mike Rush got the Washington, Missouri Chief of Police involved.

"I assigned it to one of my detectives and he looked into it," Chief Kenneth Hahn said. "The browser it came from, the IP address was actually out of the Czech Republic in Europe."

Investigators believe the message was random. That someone found Andrea's e-mail address from a website called CaringBridge. The Browns set up a page there years ago to chronicle Ryan's battle and keep loved ones informed.

The discovery is some comfort to the couple knowing it was most likely not somebody they know.

"We know that someone is not out there intentionally going to hurt us," said Andrea.

Five on Your Side's Mike Rush contacted CaringBridge. A spokesperson tells Mike that just this week, the organization heard of similar cases in Atlanta.

Those families also had pages on CaringBridge. The website does not require parents to put their e-mail addresses on the site. It's a personal choice.

As awful as these e-mails are, they're not against the law unless there's a threat made or repeated contact. Andrea did not respond to the e-mail.


KSDK

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