What happened to Koren Bailey Brown?

If she was anything, she was a lot of fun. She was like sunshine – smiling, laughing and wanting everyone to have a good time. Sure there were storms. But she was a party girl – and that was a well-established fact. She had no apparent enemies. She was loved. Even now, no one has come up with a bad thing to say about her. She didn’t pretend to be anyone other than who she was.

Her photos show a beautiful brunette with deep eyes, an engaging smile, and an external show of happiness and contentment not quite achieved in her real life. Blissfully, there is no indication of the tragedy that would befall Koren Bailey Brown whose body was found in the back seat of her car at a roadside pull-off at a Marietta nature trail last July.

She was an addict. And, it wasn’t her best week.

Marietta Police Chief Rodney Hupp confirmed the coroner’s report indicated Koren died of a brain aneurysm exacerbated by the methamphetamines found in her system. While the case remains open, it appears to be at a standstill and may never be solved. And, it is not a homicide investigation.

“It is an open investigation into criminal misdeeds that occurred surrounding the accidental death of Koren Bailey,” Hupp said.

The open status of the case means that critical information held by the police is not shared with the family – information Koren’s loved ones would hope could provide some answers and possibly lead to an arrest. From the family’s point of view, the case seems to have gone cold.

A makeshift memorial by the family of the young mother who lost her life on July 15, 2015 marks the place where her car was found, backed into a pull-off, visible from a busy shopping center nearby. Her mother, Loretta Coe, calls it “Koren’s Spot”. In that place she visits often there are flowers, a pair of sunglasses from Koren’s father, holiday trinkets from Koren’s four boys, and tokens of love from her husband, Nathan Brown, who tragically succumbed to a drug overdose six months after her death. It is not the place where she died, but it is where she was left. And, observing the traffic nearby, it is hard to believe that Koren’s car could have gone unnoticed for a couple of days.

What happened during Koren’s medical emergency (the onset of the brain aneurysm) and after remains a haunting mystery for those who loved her. It was days between her death and the time when she was found in her car. There are many questions about the events leading up to the discovery of her body.

There seem to be two most prevalent explanations based on the evidence:

Theory One: Koren suffered an aneurysm. Her companions didn’t know what to do. So, instead of getting life-saving emergency medical treatment for Koren, they freaked out, cowardly put her in the back of her car and drove her to the place where she was discovered days later.

However, there is a more sinister theory lurking about like unfinished business.

Theory Two: Koren’s companions – either knowingly or unknowingly – injected her in the neck with a lethal dose of methamphetamines. The suspects then proceeded to shove her in the back seat of her own car and drive around partying for two days before ditching the vehicle – and her decomposing body – along Cisler Trail.

Hupp said the only way Koren’s demise could be considered a homicide is if it could be proven that whoever loaded the lethal rig with meth did so with intent to kill her.

According to several people who spoke with RCNN, there are witnesses to the partying that went on during those days between Koren’s death and her discovery – witnesses who should be able to clear up the question of who was driving around with Koren’s body and when.

The matter of witnesses is a delicate one. Several individuals who provided information to RCNN also tried to approach the police with their information but felt dismissed as “junkies”.

The following describes the testimony of one such witness. Several addicts were in the lobby of Dr. Roger Anderson’s office when one of the suspects had an episode while waiting her turn. After losing his privileges with Marietta Health Systems, Anderson was running a suboxone clinic out of his office. Anderson’s offices were recently searched and his medical records seized by federal attorneys in a case involving multiple layers of law enforcement.
Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction. The suspect, a suboxone patient, became agitated and was described as obviously “jonesing” for a fix when she spilled her guts to everyone sitting in the lobby.

The witness described the scene this way:

The suspect was ranting about her guilt over her part in shoving Koren into her backseat and hitting her head on the door of the car in the process. The suspect claimed that a second suspect shot Koren up with meth – throwing her into the seizure. She said the pair subsequently left her in the backseat to die.

Although she provided the police with the names of people who were with Koren at the time of her disappearance, this particular witness felt she was not taken seriously by the police because she is a known drug user – or was at the time.

There are serious questions remaining about the details of the case.

For instance, Koren really preferred heroin. It was her drug of choice and in the days leading up to her death she was known to be using heroin. However, the drug found in her system was meth – and there were no needle marks on her body.

The lack of needle marks might be explained because Koren preferred to shoot up in her neck – in a tattoo along her hairline. It is not uncommon for users to disguise their injection sites by shooting up in a tattoo. The lack of heroin in her system can be explained because unlike meth, heroin has an extremely short half-life. It remains a mystery, however, why the party girl was using the meth that exacerbated her brain aneurysm since it wasn’t her “thing”.

No matter what happened at and after the onset of Koren’s fatal brain aneurysm, one thing is certain: She was not alone. One or (more likely) two people put her in the back seat of her car, denied her medical attention, and dumped her body.

“She deserved better than that,” her mother said. And, so does the family she left behind. Like so many Valley parents who have lost their adult children to the drug epidemic, Loretta is raising her grandchildren.

Loretta remembers that painful week last year when she lost her daughter. She was afraid there could be trouble while she was gone on vacation with the boys. Koren did not like being alone. Not ever. With the benefit of hindsight, Loretta wonders if that wasn’t a manifestation of her daughter’s lifelong battles with mental illness.

Koren’s appetite for heroin was no secret. As she left town with the boys for the week, Loretta feared – just as she always did – that Koren would overdo it.

It wasn’t just the boys and her mom who left Koren behind for the week. Her new husband had just taken a job out of town – so he was gone, too, and she was not happy about it. They were practically newlyweds having married in August 2014.

With everyone gone, the partying was expected. The strange turn of events that ensued was not.

If the official and most simple cause of death is to be believed, perhaps Koren had a brain aneurysm and died instantly. It could very well be that her associates thought she was over-dosing, freaked out, forced her body into the backseat of her car and abandoned the vehicle where it was found about 48 hours after her demise. The abandonment is still a criminal act. Koren did not die where she was found. It may be a stretch for the family to hope for any sort of murder charges, but someone –or a couple of people – are guilty of neglecting Koren, disrespecting her, and contributing to her demise.

As her mother rightly points out, Koren deserved far better than to be ditched on the side of the road. If the worst is to be believed and the culprits drove around in Koren’s car for a couple of days with her dead body in the backseat while they dealt and used drugs, there are dozens of witnesses who should be able to confirm that as truth and give the family some closure.

The acts committed against Koren were criminal in nature even if they did not include murder. Police need solid evidence – and plenty of it – in order to be able to make an arrest in this case.

Anyone with information about the mysterious death of Koren Bailey Brown is asked to contact the Marietta Police. Any and all information can be useful.

About Callie J Lyons

Callie Lyons is an investigative journalist and author living in the Mid Ohio Valley. Her first book, Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8, is available at Amazon.com and in hundreds of libraries all over the world. Known as a "warrior for public health", Lyons' environmental investigations have been featured in documentaries, including Good Neighbors - Bad Blood and Toxic Soup, on Swedish National Television and in numbers of television, radio and print media interviews. Her work has appeared on Nova's Whiz Kids and in Mother Jones magazine. More recently, a national audience has come to know her award-winning investigative work through the Environmental Working Group and interviews with leading publications like the Huffington Post and The Intercept. Lyons' work was featured in the 2017 documentary Parched:Toxic Waters by National Geographic. The Short, Fantastic Life of a Saloon Girl is Lyons' first published work of historical fiction.
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