When she didn’t hear from her responsible 26-year-old son for over two days, Shirley Davidson knew something was wrong.
Gerean Brown was close to his family, including his two young children and their mother. He always called, even if it was just to say he was running late from work.
Davidson suspected foul play, and Houston Police Department investigators on Wednesday afternoon categorized his disappearance as suspicious.
In an attempt to gather clues, Davidson, concerned friends and community activist Quanell X gathered Thursday afternoon near the northbound feeder road of the Eastex Freeway, just south of Loop 610, where Brown was last seen May 29 on his motorcycle.
An already tearful Davidson hoped to find a witness. Instead, she was met with her worst fear: a dozen police cars with lights flashing and officers cordoning off an area where maintenance crews mowing the grass had just found a body believed to be her son’s.
Davidson screamed and fell to the ground.
While Houston police did not confirm the identity of the body on Thursday afternoon, a motorcycle at the scene matched Brown’s. Red shoes and a red belt matched what Brown was wearing the night he disappeared after leaving a club just blocks away, Quanell said.
“Everything fits Mr. Gerean Brown’s description,” Quanell said.
TxDOT spokesman Danny Perez said the crew was performing routine maintenance – about once every three months the grass is mowed.
When they stumbled across the body, it was severely decomposed.
The grass appeared to have obscured the corpse and motorcycle from neighborhood search crews who had combed the feeder roads in days prior, said HPD Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner.
About 70 relatives and neighbors watched around 2 p.m. Thursday from the opposite side of the feeder road as the medical examiner loaded the body in the van.
Tears ran down the face of Cortney Lee, 24, the mother of Brown’s children.
“He was a good father,” she said, shaking her head.
Friends and family embraced Lee, who sat in the back of a parked pickup, intently watching the police officers. She and Davidson held the couple’s two children – a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son.
Screams and sobs could be heard as relatives and neighbors heard the news.
“Oh my God, oh my God, he’s just a baby,” Sandra Eleby, one of his friends, yelled.
Brown was last seen May 29 at a club at 3409 Cavalcade, just a few blocks from the feeder road where the body was found and near his home in the Fifth Ward.
He left the club with a friend, Brown riding a newly purchased, custom-built motorcycle, Quanell said.
He told the friend he was heading home.
Davidson and others gathered along the feeder road suspect the expensive motorcycle made Brown a target.
They think he was robbed, killed and dumped on the side of the highway.
By Thursday afternoon, police said the crash was likely an accident, though they were still unsure of the time and date of his death, Finner said.
The motorcycle had flipped over at least once. The body landed nearby the vehicle, Finner said.
“That’s my baby,” his mother sobbed.