Unsolved Crime: Who Hit Denny Brown?

November 2001

Princeton, Indiana

Imagine one minute you're walking down the street and everything is fine, and the next thing you know, you're in the hospital with no recollection of what happened.

That's what happened to a well known Princeton man, Denny Brown. Brown was left in a wheelchair and now lives in a nursing home after a hit and run driver seriously injured him in November 2001.

On that rainy, foggy day Denny was leaving a store walking west on State Road 64 on when a driver apparently hit him throwing him into the ditch. The only known witnesses, a husband and wife had differing accounts of what happened.

One said he had been hit, the other said he fell but neither had a description of the driver or vehicle responsible.

Denny says he walked from the nursing home to Walmart to get a new watch. "I was leaving, I don't remember coming out of the store, but I remember leaving the watch place and going out. I think it was right out there around Taco Bell."

"Denny was hit as he was going west on State Road 64, walking on the side of the road, or possibly on the road. No skid marks were left. No debris was at the scene. He was hit from the back, and knocked over into the ditch," says Princeton police officer David Rhinefort.

But Denny was leaving the store walking toward traffic on 64. He was found on that side of the road. If the officer's statement is accurate and Denny was struck from the back, the driver would have had to cross two lanes of oncoming traffic to hit him.

And there was a couple who also claimed to be driving behind Denny witnessing the accident. "One of the people in the car said he got hit, the other person said he fell down. A man and a wife, there was a discrepancy there, but to the best of my recollection, it was foggy if not misty rain at the time of the accident," says Officer Rhinefort.

Rhinefort says the witnesses didn't provide much else. "They couldn't give a description of the vehicle, even though they witnessed him fly through the air."

The only thing clear in this crime is Denny's life is changed forever. "When I first had the accident, I came to them and said my priorities is, to get back to church, and I had birds, to take care of my birds, and come back out here to volunteer. And those were the only three things I was planning on, but it hasn't worked out that way yet."

Denny is now a resident in a nursing home where he volunteered for so long. He remains in a wheel chair nearly a year after the accident.

"Would you like to live on your own again?", Stefanie asks.
"I would like to, but I don't know if I ever would."

And he's upset at the person responsible. "I think it was kind of dirty , you could have at least stopped."

But with no leads and confusion over the crime scene, the chance of an arrest is doubtful. It's also doubtful Denny will ever regain his independence. "In a smaller town, we kind of take care of our own, and Denny's been here his entire life", says Rhinefort. "Worked here, and has hurt no one, and was just a local character. If anything could ever come of this, we'd be more than happy to work on it."

The police were given a license plate number of a person seen checking out the front of their van nearby, shortly after the accident, but the license number wasn't valid. They have no other leads. If you have any information about this crime, contact the Princeton police department.