Published on: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 Takoma Park Newsletter

Widow, alleged lover arraigned for Colby Ave. homicide

Last summer, just after noon on an early August day, Takoma Park neighbors heard a disturbance in the 800 block of Colby Avenue and called the police. When Takoma Park police officers arrived, they found 73-year-old Cecil Brown violently beaten, dead in his own back yard. The Medical Examiner later determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma, and the investigation began.

Neighbors were assured early on that this was not a random crime, and that it was unlikely there would be related incidents in their neighborhood. But police were necessarily stingy with the details as they worked to unravel the case.

Then on May 28, 2015, Brown’s widow, Larlane L. Brown, 68, and a man who investigations suggest was her lover, Hussain Ali Zadeh, 49, were arrested for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. The two were arrested at the Baltimore Washington Airport as Zadeh returned from a trip to Jamaica, and Brown was there to meet him.

The investigation reads like a detective story. There were phone calls and texts between Brown and Zadeh the morning of the murder. The suspects denied they knew one another well. But there were shared bank accounts. There was a silver Jaguar for Zadeh, purchased by Brown. And records of hotel bookings. A family member told police there was an affair. And, perhaps most damning, there were searches on Larlane Brown’s phone about how a person could die – death by burning, drinks that cause heart failure, taser shock – as well as hand-written recipes for poison.

Police were ready with evidence months before they were able to make the arrests, so when Zadeh returned to the country they acted quickly. Now Brown is being held at $5 million bond, and Zadeh at $3 million bail.

At the center of the sordid tale is Cecil Brown, who police described as well-liked by neighbors and family members, someone who was often out working in his yard, a man who, “doted on his grandchildren,” according to one account. “He was just a decent, respected man, a hardworking guy,” Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg told the Gazette newspapers at the time of the arrest. “It’s such a shame.”

This article appeared in the July 2015 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.