Ten years ago today, Greg Brown vanished. Three days later, his body was found stuffed in the trunk of his 2007 Honda Accord, parked at the Valley Mall in Harrisonburg.
His alleged killer fled the country and remains the Harrisonburg Police Department’s most wanted fugitive.
“There is life after death and trauma,” said Debbie Brown Butcher, Brown’s widow. “Life goes on and people heal, but we never give up hoping that justice will be served. That would bring closure and complete healing for our family.”
Brown, 50, was shot execution-style on March 3, 2011, while trying to serve divorce papers on Weyers Cave businessman Ali Abid, police say. Brown, whose body was found March 6, 2011, had been shot three times, possibly with a 9 mm handgun, according to court documents.
Brown owned Argus Investigative Services in Harrisonburg and was a licensed private investigator. He started the company in 2008 after working for Sheetz as a regional manager, where he shifted from one store to another as needed.
In addition to being a private investigator, Brown would routinely serve legal papers on behalf of local attorneys.
Abid, 59, is charged with first-degree murder. His whereabouts are unclear but police believe he may be in Iraq.
Abid is seen on surveillance video dropping off Brown’s car at the mall three days before police found the victim inside. A camera also captured the suspect a short time later at a nearby Farmers & Merchants Bank branch withdrawing $11,376 from his account.
Later that day, using a Canadian passport, Abid boarded a flight at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia headed for Frankfurt, Germany. From there, police say, he flew to Istanbul and then to Baghdad.
Prosecutors say local authorities continue to work with the FBI and Interpol on leads to track down Abid.
“It’s very much an active case,” Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst said.
The case was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in 2012.
While the search for Brown’s killer continues, his family is spending the 10-year anniversary of the slaying remembering him as the “super dad,” as he was referred to at his funeral.
Debbie Brown Butcher said her late husband came into her life at a difficult time, when she was raising four children.
She said Greg Brown, who had one biological child, took her family under his wings.
“There aren’t words to describe how you miss someone,” Brown Butcher said. “Greg wasn’t just a normal man — he was a leader in the community and taught us all how to live a better life and to be better people.”
She said Brown was always looking out for the neighborhood children.
“Ten years later, the kids he used to mentor in his community are graduating high school and still remember him for the lessons he taught them,” Brown Butcher said. “We will always remember Greg for wanting to make the world a better place.”
While his family still struggles with the life taken too soon, they said they’re proud of the footsteps he left behind to guide them through life’s journeys.
“Not only was he a great man, he was the type of man I strive to be,” his son, Will Zampini, said in a statement.