Residents display ‘Justice for Tom’ signs in Borger and surrounding areas

A “Who killed Tom?” sign in Borger. (photo by Cynthia Reyes)The banners after they were vandalized. The part cut from the banners read “There is a killer among us.”"Justice for Tom" signs in Borger (photo by Cynthia Reyes)
Cynthia Reyes
Staff Reporter

It’s been nearly three years since high school senior Thomas Brown went missing in Canadian. The highly publicized case drew some national attention after Brown’s case was featured on NBC’s “Dateline” and the popular podcast “Unfound.” Thomas’ remains were found later on Jan. 9 in the Lake Marvin area near Canadian, but his family and the community are still searching for answers.
 After banners that stated “Justice for Tom. There is a killer among us” in Canadian were vandalized in early July, people from surrounding communities have begun displaying smaller “Justice for Tom” signs in their yards. Thomas’ mother, Penny Brown Meek, hopes the signs might keep his story in people’s minds just long enough to solve the case.
 “What if it were your son?” Brooke Ashby of Borger asked. “There are still so many unanswered questions almost three years later. Somebody, somewhere knows exactly what happened. Thomas’ family deserves closure and they will only get that by this being solved. Having two sons myself, I couldn’t imagine going through this alone without the support of my community. It’s the least I can do to promote these signs and keep this fresh on everyone’s minds.”
 Shortly after Brown went missing, close friends of Tom’s mother rallied behind their friend and created the Moms4Tom Facebook page. The page has since attracted moms from all over the area with nearly 10,000 followers.  Mothers like Ashley McWilliams of Borger who has two young sons. “I just feel Tom’s mom deserves to know what happened and who was responsible,” McWilliams said.
Many people are not only shaken by the fact that a mother lost her son but that this could happen in a small town like Canadian and what feels like, in the minds of some people, an unwillingness by law enforcement to provide answers.
“As a mother of four boys, this case has really touched me,” said Jessica Ozbun of Fritch. This happened right here in the Texas Panhandle, 87 miles from my hometown. I can’t imagine, as a mother, going nearly three years and not having any answers to what happened to my child.”
Ozbun is one of many in Hutchinson County who purchased a yard sign. A total of 108 signs have been purchased in Hutchinson County so far.
“The signs are a symbol of hope for Meek and her family. Her banners may have been destroyed but it’s certainly going to be hard to destroy over 1,500 signs. The signs help keep Tom’s case active and on everyone’s minds,” Ozbun explained.
 They put in an initial order for 500 signs and within three days all were sold. Since then, they have ordered a total of 1500 signs, with requests for more signs still pouring in each day. Signs have gone all over the surrounding communities, including Amarillo, Borger, Pampa, Fritch, Stinnett, Childress to even the further edges of the Panhandle from Lubbock to Wichita Falls.
Requests for signs have even been made in other states, including Oklahoma, Minnesota and Missouri. One sign is currently being shipped to a woman in South Carolina who has been following the case for about a year.
 It’s been suggested by some on Facebook that people may have found the wording of the original sign as “offensive.” To which Meek replied, “What’s truly offensive is that my child lost his life and that whoever is responsible isn’t being held accountable.”
Meek understands that there is fear in her local community and tension created by small-town politics.
“But it’s past time to put all that aside. It should just be about finding who murdered my son,” she said.
Despite not having unanimous support in Canadian, mothers from all across the Texas Panhandle stay vigilant in their support of Tom’s family and continue to keep his story fresh in the public’s mind.
“I have two daughters, it could have easily been one of my children. It could have been anyone’s child,” Chandra Young, who currently assists with the signs said, “I don’t know how Penny does it. Her strength is beyond measure and her faith is strong. I just don’t know how she does it but she does it gracefully every day.”