When a mother went to a hospital and never returned again, her children set out on a mission to find the answer, but it wasn’t until 30 years later they found out what happened to their mother.
Myrtle Brown went missing at the age of 35, in 1990 while visiting her friends in New York; her fate remained unknown until her brother Robert Brown had a fortuitous encounter with a TV special about unidentified bodies.
The more than three-decade cold case was solved by a chance encounter with a news broadcast, but prior to the TV segment, the Brown family suffered for 32 years, constantly agonizing about where their mother could be.
Myrtle Brown went missing at the age of 35, in 1990 in New York; her fate remained unknown until her brother Robert Brown tuned into a TV segment
The more than three-decade cold case was solved by a chance encounter with a news broadcast about unidentified bodies
Robert (pictured left with Myrtle’s daughter Eboney) thought the identified woman he saw on TV was his sister and phoned the cold case team who revealed it wasn’t her
While Myrtle was visiting friends in New York, her purse, which had her epilepsy medication inside, was stolen
After her purse was snatched, she phoned daughter Eboney Brown, who was 13 at the time, and the rest of her family to detail what had happened and let them she know she was headed to the King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn to refill her medication.
In an interview with NBC, Eboney said: ‘She ended up going by herself and then that was the last moment, you know, we ever heard from her.’
Mrytle’s family searched high and low for her, visiting local police stations and hospitals, but were never able to find their mother.
‘I never thought she passed away.
‘I thought maybe she just wanted something different, maybe, out of life. I didn’t know, to be honest, I was just confused and sad,’ her daughter said.
The family went wondering what became of their loved one for 32 years, until one day, Robert turned on the TV and began watching NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.
At the time, there was a special about cold cases and it discussed the team of people who investigated these unsolved mysteries that traced back decades.
One of the team members was Dr. Angela Soler, assistant director of forensic anthropology, who shared that the team managed nearly 1,250 unidentified person cases.
The cold case team got to work and searched over two weeks of records of unidentified cases over the span of two months (Myrtle pictured alongside her family)
Robert and Eboney revealed that their beloved sister and mother had last told them she was going to the hospital to get a refill on her epilepsy medication after her purse was stolen
Robert spotted an image on a missing person’s poster of a facial reconstruction, which is a tool the cold case team used to recreate facial structure with a clay model
While watching, Robert spotted an image on a missing person’s poster of a facial reconstruction, which is a tool the cold case team used to recreate facial structure and features with a clay model to help catch the attention of those watching.
‘I saw a young lady that could be or could not have been my sister.
‘And I said to myself, ”Wow, I wonder if that could be her,”’ Robert told NBC.
Two days after the segment aired, Robert and his wife called the medical examiner’s office in hopes of finding his sister.
Although the woman Robert saw wasn’t his sister, Soler and her team had everything they needed to get to work to reveal the truth about what happened to Myrtle.
Soler said: ‘I took a look at the reconstruction and noticed, OK, I’m probably looking for a middle-aged Black woman.
‘It all matched with what the family was telling us, and we were also informed that she went missing in May of 1990. So I knew exactly where to start my search.’
Soler reviewed over two weeks of records labeled ‘unverified unknowns’ over the span of two months.
She started her search by reviewing May 1, 1990 death dates, until she reached an individual who had passed away on May 17, 1990.
‘In this instance, the contextual information included the date that she passed away.
‘She passed away in Brooklyn, which matched the family telling me that she used to receive medical care in Brooklyn.
‘She had a presumptive name that matched, a presumptive date of birth that matched, and the family had given some medical information about their missing loved one that also matched what was in the case file,’ Soler revealed to NBC.
32 years after Myrtle Brown went missing, her brother and her daughter Eboney Brown received a call that they had found a match (Myrtle pictured)
The Brown family found out their mother died from a seizure while waiting in the emergency room of a hospital, but were finally at peace after all the wondering
The Brown family was able to hold a virtual memorial for Myrtle (pictured) and noted that they were thankful to Soler for helping them solve their beloved sister and mother’s mystery
Soler than called Robert and gave him the news he had been waiting for for over three decades.
Soler explained to Robert and Eboney that she believed they had found his sister and her mother.
Eboney asked for a photo of the deceased person to confirm whether or not it was Myrtle.
And while it took Robert a second to realize it was Myrtle, Eboney knew immediately and felt like she had been transported back in time.
‘As soon as I saw the photo… just, you know it, you knew it was her,’ Eboney said.
The family then finally learned the truth about what happened to Myrtle.
Myrtle was never admitted into the King’s County Hospital, but the Robert and Eboney learned that she had been waiting in the emergency and had a seizure and died.
Myrtle had only given the hospital her name and date of birth.
The Brown family was able to hold a virtual memorial for Myrtle and noted that they were finally at peace after finding out what happened.
And although the recreation Robert saw wasn’t Myrtle, Soler said it emphasizes the importance of people stepping forward and encourages other families to do the same.
‘Even though it didn’t end up being the individual the recreation was based on, it helped us resolve a case.
‘It made a difference. And that’s the whole point is … to get people to stop and think for a moment and follow through and give us a phone call,’ she said.