Devastated. The families and friends of Jean Ann Jefferson Brown and Raymond Brown were devastated after someone shot and killed the two cousins.
Jean Brown was “doing missionary work, helping someone” when she and Raymond Brown were killed, said Jean Brown’s goddaughter, Christel Butler.
She would have turned 67 on Saturday. Instead, friends and family of Jean Brown will gather at a church in Holly Hill to honor her life.
Raymond Brown’s funeral has not yet been announced, one of Jean Brown’s sisters, Mary Smith, said Monday. He was 62 years old.
Mary Smith said her sister was her best friend.
And Raymond Brown “was the kind of person who would help you out if you needed him,” Mary Smith said.
“He had a good heart and was very manageable,” she added.
“I and my sister, Jean, took him under our wings and helped him get everything he needed” after his parents died several years ago, Mary Smith said.
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“And whatever he needed or wanted, we tried and did to help him forward. It raised his self-esteem to what it needed to be,” she said.
“He was soft-spoken. I never saw him say anything mean to anyone,” said Krystle Smith, Jean Brown’s niece.
Mary Smith said she and her sister took Raymond Brown to doctor’s appointments, to the grocery store and wherever he needed to go.
“If Jean couldn’t take her to the doctor, I would take her to the doctor, to the grocery store, whatever,” she said.
Jean Brown took Raymond Brown to Charleston for a doctor’s appointment last Wednesday. She had her one-year-old grandson with them for the ride.
Mary Smith and Jean Brown spoke earlier today. But later, neither Mary Smith nor Jean Brown’s husband, Bishop Melvin Brown, could reach Jean Brown by telephone.
“Something is wrong,” recalls Mary Smith, recalling Bishop Brown telling her.
Mary Smith and her brother went to Raymond Brown’s at 246 Wesgar Avenue near Eutawville.
Jean Brown’s black 2014 Buick Enclave was not at the scene, nor was her grandson.
The keys to Raymond Brown’s house were in the lock on the closed door, Mary Smith said. A plastic bag containing a Styrofoam box of food hung on the doorknob.
Mary Smith and her brother called 911. Law enforcement arrived.
She was considering entering the house when a state trooper appeared next to her.
He convinced her to let him in instead.
Jean Brown’s body was found behind the front door, so deputies entered the house through the back door instead, according to an incident report from the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Once inside, they discovered Raymond Brown’s body next to that of his slain cousin.
After the shooting, Jean Brown’s one-year-old grandson was found in an unidentified man’s unsecured car at a St. George gas station.
The child was reunited with his mother a few hours later. He was not physically injured.
The man accused of shooting and killing Jean Brown and Raymond Brown was familiar to them, Mary Smith said.
Antonio Smalls, 45, had done some home repairs for the two sisters.
Mary Smith had hired Smalls to complete a plaster project, which he had done the previous Thursday, she said.
Smalls is nephew of Mary Smith, through her husband’s family, she said.
She knew Smalls had a few convictions on his record, but never imagined he would be charged with killing his sister and cousin.
Smalls’ warrants allege he confessed to shooting and killing Jean Brown and Raymond Brown.
Mary Smith said Smalls lived with his brother in St. George, although he once lived with his mother in Moncks Corner.
Authorities in North Charleston located Smalls there hours after the bodies were discovered.
He is charged with one count of kidnapping and two counts of murder and possession of a weapon in the commission of a violent crime.
Moncks Corner is also where Bishop Brown is pastor of my father’s house ministry.
“We are devastated,” said Diane Harris-Smith, one of the church members.
“We were raised like sisters right next door,” Harris-Smith said of Jean Brown.
Jean Brown “was an all-in-one package,” Harris-Smith said, noting the many roles she took on at the church, including singing, conducting, and being involved in almost every way she could. .
“She was everything to everyone,” Butler said.
“Always helpful. She took many people’s children to help raise them, feed them, clothe them, pray for them,” she said.
“She was very kind, very loving, but also disciplinary,” Butler added.
Jean Brown has three natural children, but the number of additional children — those she helped raise and nurture — is incalculable, family members have said.
They described her as a “surrogate mother”, not least because Jean Brown served as a type of “community daycare” for working mothers who needed someone to babysit.
“She was a woman of many hats, literally and figuratively,” said Shannen Johnson, Jean Brown’s niece.
“She taught me a lot about being a mother. She taught me so many things. When I entered the ministry, because she is a first lady, she taught me how to behave as a as first lady. She told me, being in ministry, to “always have a prayer life,” Johnson said.
The families of Jean Brown and Raymond Brown have prayed and are comforted by those who pray for them, they said.
Recalling the words of an old folk hymn, Mary Smith said, “We’ll understand it better soon.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD