Murder Under the Friday Night Lights is looking into the strange case of Thomas “Tom” Brown, who disappeared from his hometown of Canadian, Texas, in 2016.
Tom Brown was a high school senior, class president, and a player on the state champion Canadian Wildcat football team, and he was only 18 years old when he went missing just before Thanksgiving on November 23, 2016. His whereabouts remained a complete mystery for over two years until skeletal remains were discovered in January 2019.
The case has remained unsolved, and the authorities still can’t decide what happened to Tom; he either committed suicide, had an accident, or was murdered.
The case has attracted numerous theories, and scandal hit the town when rumors of a gambling ring involving the Wildcats and the sheriff’s office emerged, which included allegations that students were told to throw games.
The morning after he vanished, Brown’s Dodge Durango was found at a waste treatment facility on the edge of town. The cops also found a .25-caliber casing in the vehicle, but there was no other evidence and no sign of any DNA.
In January 2017, Tom’s backpack and laptop were found near Lake Marvin, but once again, revealed no evidence. Ten months later, his cellphone was discovered in a nearby location. The phone revealed a google search for a suicide hotline on the night Tom disappeared.
However, the cellphone evidence has been viewed with suspicion. Despite being found in the dirt, the phone showed no damage and no sign of wear and tear, leading some investigators to suspect that the phone was in another person’s possession before being later placed in the spot.
Finally, in January 2019, Tom’s skeletal remains were located near Lake Marvin. A positive ID was made using dental records. The side of his skull had suffered from blunt force trauma, but unfortunately, it still wasn’t clear if the cause of death was suicide, accident, or murder.
Tom Brown’s family turned to a private investigator
In 2019, Tom’s family hired private investigator Phillip Klein to find out what happened to their son and the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office handed the case over to the Office of Texas Attorney General’s Special Investigations Group. The two organizations have been running simultaneous investigations ever since, but so far, without success.
In October 2021, Klein made public his theory that Tom had been murdered. He claimed that an individual called Chris Jones had been brought in to play for the Wildcats and to throw various games as part of a high-dollar gambling ring in Canadian that was betting on the outcome of Wildcat football games.
According to Klein, Jones claimed that he and Tom Brown were threatened by members of the Sheriff’s Office, including the actual Sheriff, and that they were told they would be killed unless they lost the next game.
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Murder Under the Friday Night Lights airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.