If you know me, you know that every once in a while I will post about my brother Chad. He’s been “missing” since around the spring of 2008, the year I got married. The reason I put “missing” in quotation marks is because we sort of knew where he was at one point, but then lost track of him. Let me explain.
Chad would have been only around twenty years old back then. He was the next-to-youngest of my siblings and since he was a baby, he’d had developmental problems. In 2007, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, among other things. He was impressionable, but he’d also always had problems adapting to social settings. If we ever tried to play a game with him (video games, board games, etc), he’d either decline or, if he did play, become angry. This sort of led to him often doing his own thing.
When I met my now ex-wife, at the time she was the woman of my dreams. After a few months of dating we decided I’d make the move from Lewiston/Auburn, Maine to Saco, Maine where she lived. I didn’t want to leave my immediate family, but I was in love and at the time I thought it was what I needed to do. Unfortunately, I also didn’t have as much contact with my brothers and sister any longer. My days were filled with working on the house, working at my new job, and helping to take care of animals – in addition to spending time with the new fiance and her nearby family members. Over time, I would hear more and more discouraging things about Chad.
One day, I drove to Lewiston and asked him if he wanted to make a trip with me to see our grandparents in Oxford, Maine. He agreed, and during the ride, he expressed a longing, a sadness, with his relationships with girls. I tried to be supportive, but wasn’t sure exactly who he was talking about. He mentioned never knowing what to say, not knowing what to do, he didn’t like to be alone. I told him that sometimes, relationships needed work and that the good ones took time to work on. I was never really sure what he managed to get out of that conversation, if anything, but it seemed to go well. However, the next time I saw him was at a party that my wife at the time helped me throw at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The idea was to get both our family members to meet and hang out so that it wouldn’t be as awkward once the actual wedding came.
This photo shows one of the last times I was ever able to talk one-on-one with Chad. He was disconnected while there. He kept taking out his cell phone, mumbling into it. He asked me if I wanted to become an “Alchemist”. When I said no, that I was all set, he grabbed his phone and pretended to answer it and screamed into it. He insisted that he was in charge of over seventy people, who were all “Alchemists”. Chad had always been obsessed with “potions” from fantasy games like the Elder Scrolls video games or from Dungeons & Dragons. He would try to create different potions in his room, sometimes lighting things on fire in his attempt to utilize ingredients. I expressed concern about his behavior that day to my wife and to my other siblings, but we were all pretty much like “Well, that’s Chad for you.”
Sometime after that, Chad met a girl online. He never really opened up about it. Her name was Amanda Michelle Hoffner.
I only heard about Amanda through my family, as my time was still occupied with my new life in Saco. I wondered when I was going to get to meet her, and asked usually what my family thought of her. Most of the time, my family was sort of put off by her. She came up to Maine from North Carolina, out of the blue, because Chad had apparently convinced her online that he had a lot of excess money. There were lots of problems with her right out of the gate. Soon, she was getting in the way of Chad coming to family functions and the two were often reclusive. She suddenly became pregnant, but the time frame didn’t match up to when she’d arrived. Chad could not have gotten her pregnant.
During Christmas, I finally was able to meet Amanda. We opened gifts like a family, and she barely spoke. They had to leave early, right after opening presents. They smelled like body odor. Chad looked worn down. I didn’t even have time to speak with him. After hanging out with my other siblings for a while, my wife and I left and that was the last time I ever saw Chad in person. I think sometime that month, or a month later, they disappeared. Amanda had somehow convinced Chad to sign over all of his paperwork to her and get on a bus to North Carolina. My mother had originally been his guardian, but when my family asked what had happened, we were no longer stewards of his personal care and they said they couldn’t help us. My family had an address, somewhere in China Grove or Kannapolis, North Carolina. Eventually, we got a hold of Amanda’s family but they often said Chad wasn’t there or that he didn’t wish to speak with us. My mother had police officers go check out their home to see if he was okay, and Chad was able to speak with her over the phone once they got there but it was on speakerphone, most likely at Amanda’s behest, and Chad was only giving hesitant one-word answers. We felt like he was being brainwashed, tricked into accepting responsibility for a child that wasn’t his. Amanda’s family submitted a restraining order against my mother for a myriad assortment of charges that ran the gamut from stalking to sexual harassment. We couldn’t do much because Chad was over the age of consent and was an adult.
Now, we’ve sort of lost touch with where he is in North Carolina, if he’s even still there. All my family wants to do is to know where he’s at, know he’s okay, know that he knows he can come back here anytime. If anyone knows any information, submit a comment here or go to the Facebook page my sister set up called MISSING FROM MAINE: CHAD BROWN.
Chad has missed a lot of things, good and bad, in our family. My sister has had another daughter that he doesn’t know about, and she’s moved into a new home with a new guy who is really cool. He doesn’t know that one of our aunts moved to Florida, and that I moved to Portland, Maine. One of our beloved family members, our great grandmother (we called her “Westbrook Nana”) died while he’s been gone. My wife is no longer around, and we are divorced. So many different dynamics. So many different things have happened. And we have absolutely no idea what we missed with Chad. Is he in good health? Is he happy? We don’t even know the basics. We love him, we miss him. Please let us know if any of you out there who may be reading this has any clue about his whereabouts. Feel free to share this blog post on Facebook or elsewhere, as it’d be a big help. We received a distressing phone call with him once before we lost all contact with him, where he said he wanted to come back home. But I don’t think any of us had heard anything more from him after that.
With that, here are a couple of closing images: