Clearwater Mother of Two Kills Her Kids Then Herself

A Clearwater mother of two young boys took their life and her own this weekend.

The father and husband, Murphy Brown, found them when he got home early Saturday morning.

Hours before, Brown had told his wife, Dawn, whom he’d married eight years ago, that he wanted to leave her. Then he went out for the night.

That was just the latest blow for the Browns, but it would prove cataclysmic.

Sometime that night, the 34-year-old mother killed her two sons, 9-year-old Zander and 5-year-old Zayden, and then hanged herself from a bedroom ceiling fan with an electrical cord, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Brown found his boys in their beds, tucked in, friend and neighbor William Lavold said.

Authorities have not said how the boys were killed or whether Dawn Brown left a suicide note.

Lavold, who went into the house after Brown discovered his family’s bodies, said it looked as though the boys had been drowned. He saw water all over the
bathroom floor. “[And] there were six towels kicked to the side,” he said. But he saw no blood or signs of a struggle.

Life in the Brown home had become increasingly strained.

By Friday night, the power at the family’s home had been shut off for days, and the Browns were relying on a neighbor who was supplying them electricity through an extension cord.

The home has been in foreclosure proceedings at least three times since 2002, with the most recent case filed in February, according to court records.

Money was tight. Dawn Brown didn’t work, and her husband struggled to make a living repairing cars.

Last year Dawn was charged with welfare fraud on June 8, 2011, under her maiden name of Dawn Michelle Barylski.

On Sept. 12, just days before deputies say she killed herself and her children, Brown entered a written plea of not guilty in the case.

After her arrest, Brown stopped taking the classes she needed to become a teacher.

Brown couldn’t get a job with a felony arrest on her record, and she withdrew.

Now, Murphy Brown can’t bring himself to go home, and he doesn’t have the money to bury his boys.

Lavold and other neighbors are banding together to help. They plan to essentially gut the house and sell off anything of value to pay for the funerals.

Neighbors are looking for donations to help with the renovation, including an industrial-sized trash bin and volunteers to help with the work.

Donations are being accepted at, and 100% will go to Mr. Brown.