DeKalb sheriff's
assassination called 'professional hit'
[Atlanta, GA]

Brenden Sager, Staff
December 20, 2000, Wednesday, Final Edition
Copyright 2000 The Atlanta Constitution
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
December 20, 2000, Wednesday, Final Edition

Officials said today the assassination of DeKalb County Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown was a "professional hit" and among those considered potential suspects are men who were tailing him during the campaign. DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said investigators had ruled out robbery and a domestic dispute as motives for the slaying. Morgan refused to elaborate on those who were following Brown.

In addition, investigators are focusing on 38 current sheriff's department employees who Brown said would likely lose their jobs after he took office and companies and people who have contracts with the jail.

"There were a lot of people who wanted him dead," Morgan said.

On Tuesday, local leaders announced several measures to help the Brown family.

County school officials Tuesday announced the creation of a fund for Brown's widow, Phyllis, and their five children.

County Commissioner Lou Walker said a separate memorial fund for Brown's family has been established. Citizens Trust Bank set up the account and contributed $1,000.

"Our load is lightened knowing that Derwin touched so many lives," Phyllis Brown said in a written statement.

Brown was shot 11 times late Friday as he arrived at his home near I-285.

He was headed home from a party at a nearby restaurant, where he had celebrated with family and friends his graduation from sheriff training classes.

He was due to be sworn in as sheriff Monday.

GBI spokesman John Bankhead said the agency is conducting lab tests on evidence.

The FBI has agents permanently assigned to the case.

Weeks before his death, Brown sent letters to 38 jail employees --- from detention officers to top-level administrators --- telling them they would no longer have jobs when he took office. Brown later reconsidered on about eight cases.

Brown had resigned from his former job as a DeKalb police captain to become sheriff. Because he was between jobs, the family faces "financial difficulties," the school system said in a statement. Both Derwin and Phyllis Brown were active in the PTA, the statement said.

DeKalb police and Brown's family Tuesday were working out arrangements for his funeral and procession, scheduled for Thursday.

The funeral is to begin at 11 a.m. at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit/Chapel Hill Harvester Church in south DeKalb County.

His body will lie in state until 7 p.m. tonight at Donald Tremble Mortuary, 1876 Second Ave., Decatur.

Today was the deadline for filing applications to serve as Brown's interim replacement. DeKalb Probate Judge Marion Guess said he hopes to name the interim sheriff Friday.

A special selection panel will have fewer than two days to consider the applicants and recommend a replacement.

"We're looking at someone who has absolutely pristine credentials, someone who can run the Sheriff's Department, someone of very good character," Guess said.

DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said county officials hope the new interim sheriff will be someone who won't run for the job in a special election March 20.

"We want to make an appointment and allow this person as much time as possible to get his feet on the ground," Guess said. "I would find it hard to believe that from this list, we couldn't find anybody."

The appointee will head a department with more than 650 employees and a jail that houses 3,600 inmates.

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