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The James Brown Mystery

A strange phone call reveals a question from the grave – was The Godfather of Soul murdered? Almost 40 years ago, a songwriter found herself in musician James Brown’s inner circle. The relationship would nearly destroy her career. Decades later, she’s trying to solve the mystery of James Brown's death…and her own life. When she makes a call to CNN reporter Thomas Lake, the two stumble into a world of secrets, intimidation, and suspected foul play. 

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The Blood and the Notebook
The James Brown Mystery
Nov 18, 2022

The detective investigating Adrienne Brown’s death gets a tip from an informant who says a doctor in California is responsible for Adrienne’s untimely death. Thomas Lake visits this doctor to ask if he killed Adrienne Brown. Meanwhile, one of James Brown’s friends says he has a vial of blood which proves that the Godfather of Soul was murdered. And when Jacque Hollander gets a threatening phone call, she thinks it’s from someone who wants her to keep quiet about James Brown’s death.

Episode Transcript
Thomas Lake
00:00:05
Previously on the James Brown mystery Jacque Hollander falls in love with a mysterious stranger named Steve. But there are signs he's hiding something.
Answering Machine
00:00:15
Jacque is a real pleasure to hear your voice on your answering machine. Just calling to say hello.
Thomas Lake
00:00:20
Things take a turn for the worse when Adrienne Brown suddenly dies and Jacque begins to think that Steve had something to do with it.
Jacque Hollander
00:00:28
And he said, Yeah, Jacque have you ever met the Angel of Death? You're looking at him now. I think he kept me alive. And they went for Adrienne. They were going to take one of us down, and they chose her.
Thomas Lake
00:00:41
And she's not the only one who finds Adrienne's death suspicious.
Steve Miller
00:00:44
If I had seen this 16 or 17 years ago, I'd have been standing on that jackasses front porch. It's just like the smoking gun.
Thomas Lake
00:01:00
In 1996, two months after Adrienne Brown died, James Brown appeared on Larry King Live.
Larry King
00:01:07
Let's discuss what's on everybody's mind, the passing of your wife.
Thomas Lake
00:01:11
Brown wore a black leather jacket with stars on the sleeves, and he looked the part of a grieving widower.
Larry King
00:01:17
Here's a terrific lady. I met her a few times with you in our studios in Washington. She was always so full of life and energy. She was some lady. I bet you miss her a lot.
James Brown
00:01:28
Well, I miss her more than anything in my life. I just wish it could've went the other way. But I can't control that 'cause God's. God's in control and we just take the hand that's dealt to us.
Thomas Lake
00:01:39
Adrienne Brown was 45 when she died while recovering from plastic surgery at an aftercare facility in California. The coroner ruled her death an accidental drug overdose. Beverly Hills Police Detective Steve Miller was assigned to the case and found no clear evidence of foul play. But about two years after Adrienne's death, Detective Miller heard something odd about one of the doctors who had treated Adrienne. This doctor had refused to talk with Detective Miller, which made Miller wonder if he had something to hide. He found out the doctor suddenly left Los Angeles a few months after Adrienne died. Here's Detective Miller.
Steve Miller
00:02:19
This guy left a job that was paying him a huge amount of money, went to a small town and opened up an office in another state. That's a complete change of life. So there goes another light off for me, because what do the guilty people do when they are feeling pressure? They run away to avoid it or they kill themselves or do something else. So if he was one of the guys I wanted to talk to, my next move was to go to where he lives and ring his doorbell.
Thomas Lake
00:02:54
Miller learned about the doctor's sudden move from an informant named Linda Bennett, who had given Miller and other officers reliable information in the past. Miller had also been getting calls from Jacque Hollander, who didn't know the doctor but had her own reasons to believe Adrienne was murdered. The information from Linda and Jacque left Detective Miller with a nagging suspicion about Adrienne Brown's death. But that's all it was. Suspicion. He didn't have enough evidence to reopen the case. Miller never rang the doctor's doorbell. Eventually, he moved on. Then, about five years after Adrienne Brown died, that same informant, Linda Bennett, left a package for Miller at the Beverly Hills Police Station. Inside was Linda's appointment book from 1996, the year Adrienne died, as well as a spiral notebook full of handwritten notes.
Steve Miller
00:03:49
I took a look at it, and inside is this very fluorescent pink writing that is almost impossible to read on this blue paper. So I'm trying to read that, and I read some of it through. And it's it's a narration that she wrote down on how to approach the doctor and what would happen.
Thomas Lake
00:04:07
Linda's notebook and appointment book made it clear that Linda knew Adrienne's doctor before he left town, but Detective Miller couldn't find anything in the books that added up to evidence of murder.
Steve Miller
00:04:18
And I said, Oh Linda, I need more than that. And so, you know, I kind of pushed it aside and moved and never really looked at the stuff because of that. I thought, Well, that's a good try, but I can't go anywhere with this. It doesn't put me at his front door.
Thomas Lake
00:04:34
Linda dropped off the notebook that mentioned the doctor in 2001, just before Detective Miller retired from the Beverly Hills Police Department a few weeks after he retired. Miller celebrated with a fishing trip at a friend's place in the mountains.
Steve Miller
00:04:48
And he lives down a little hole, so cell phone doesn't work there. And then we were up at high altitude fishing, and I went into town to get something and I had a couple of, you know, messages and phone calls and one of them was Linda called and she wanted me to call her back. It was like on a Friday or something, and she had called the day before and I didn't get the call until I went into town. So I called her and her mom answered the phone and told me that Linda had passed away.
Thomas Lake
00:05:20
Linda Bennett was 36. She'd been sick for a long time waiting for a heart transplant. And she died before she could explain to Miller why she'd given him the notebook.
Steve Miller
00:05:31
Oh, I was sad. I wished like hell I'd have been able to talk to her, you know.
Thomas Lake
00:05:35
With no other evidence to go on. Miller put the Adrienne Brown case behind him. He took Linda's notebook, packed it away in a box in his closet, and moved on with his life. The notebook stayed in the box for 16 years until right around the time.
Steve Miller
00:05:52
I get this damn call from Tom.
Thomas Lake
00:05:56
I called Miller because when I first talked to Jacque, she told me I should contact the detective who investigated Adrienne Brown's death. Jacque had talked to Detective Miller in 1996 to share her suspicion that Adrienne was murdered. So I emailed Detective Miller. After he got my email about Adrienne's case, Miller remembered Linda Bennett's notebook. He dug it out of the box in the closet. This time he read the whole notebook, and what he saw in those pages astonished him.
Steve Miller
00:06:26
And I just was very discouraged that I hadn't read it. And it felt real bad.
Thomas Lake
00:06:34
Like, just regret. Like kicking yourself.
Steve Miller
00:06:38
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Thomas Lake
00:06:45
In the notebook that lay open in front of him, Detective Miller finally saw what Linda Bennett had been trying to tell him. On one of those blue pages, Linda wrote that the doctor who treated Adrienne Brown had confessed to killing Adrienne. Because Linda is no longer with us. I asked our producer, Rachel, to read from Linda's notebook.
Rachel
00:07:07
I know he murdered James Brown's wife. I think it was part of the plan to make it look like an overdose. This was premeditated murder.
Thomas Lake
00:07:22
From CNN. This is the James Brown Mystery. I'm your host, Thomas Lake. This is episode five, The Blood and The Notebook.
Thomas Lake
00:07:40
When Detective Miller found that passage in Linda's notebook, it seemed to confirm Jacque Hollander's suspicion that her friend Adrienne was murdered while recovering from plastic surgery. Here's our producer, Rachel, again, reading more from Linda's notebook. And a quick note here. We're not using the doctor's name because he hasn't been charged with a crime.
Rachel
00:08:01
This motherf**** was murder for hire. Yes, he snuck in late at night. He switched pills, street drugs. He said he almost wanted to help her. She called for him to help. Yes. He just smiled. I know the smile. I have a picture of it and let her slip away. He described her clothing or bandages, the look on her face. It is so real. It was chillingly haunting to hear him describe it in such detail. He had to have been there. It had to have been him. It scared the hell out of me. And he knew it did. And he liked it.
Thomas Lake
00:08:42
Was Linda Bennett telling the truth? Did this doctor confess to murdering Adrienne Brown? Linda's notebook may be the most astonishing document I've seen in two decades as a journalist. If Detective Miller had read it all when Linda gave it to him in 2001, it could have changed everything in the aftermath of Adrienne Brown's death. Miller might have had a witness whose testimony resulted in a murder conviction. And if Jacque Hollander's theory is correct, that might have been the beginning of the end of the James Brown machine that she says has been terrorizing her and others for decades. Instead, the notebook sat in a box for 16 years until Detective Miller finally read the whole thing.
Steve Miller
00:09:27
My immediate reaction then was, you know, like I was very depressed. I just became crestfallen with Linda's testimony, I think God had him.
Thomas Lake
00:09:36
Do you ever lie awake at night thinking about this case?
Steve Miller
00:09:39
I do now. I do now.
Thomas Lake
00:09:43
The notebook probably never would have come to light if Jacque hadn't kept pushing for answers about the death of her friend Adrienne. Jacque was the one who told me to contact Miller, which led Miller to dig out the notebook and read what he'd missed before. Miller takes pictures of the pages and sends them to me as I read through them. Another part of Linda's story stops me cold. Here's Rachel again, reading from The notebook.
Rachel
00:10:08
I know he murdered James Brown's wife, as he referred to her. I know he did. Plus, he was trying desperately to cover. I know, because he told me then he tried to kill me.
Thomas Lake
00:10:24
Linda Bennett was a sex worker and the doctor was one of her clients. And sometimes it seemed like he was more than that. Her datebook gives a clear timeline of their relationship. After studying that timeline, along with the stories in Linda's notebook, Detective Miller came up with a disturbing theory about how it unfolded.
Steve Miller
00:10:43
The second or third date was his birthday, they went out to dinner at the Palm Restaurant in West Hollywood and then to a nearby motel. ___ wanted to shoot up and have sex on his birthday, and we're talking heroin.
Thomas Lake
00:10:59
After tracking down the doctor's birthdate, I checked the date of the West Hollywood rendezvous in Linda's datebook. The dates match up. One more indicator that Linda Bennett was telling the truth. In a later date book entry, this one for May 14th, Linda wrote that she overdosed on heroin while she and the doctor were seeing each other. Detective Miller believes the doctor injected Linda with heroin, hoping to kill her so she couldn't tell anyone he had killed Adrienne Brown.
Steve Miller
00:11:29
I think what happened is that he had sex with Linda and told her what he had done, and then he knew that he was screwed because she could talk. And this other stuff started going down with the heroin and stuff and he overdosed her and left her there. He just left her there to die.
Thomas Lake
00:11:48
It's not clear to me how Linda made it to the hospital and survived this overdose. But she did. Her datebook indicates she was in the hospital for three days. And in Los Angeles, I find friends of Linda's who remember this incident. One of them, Lisa Gingrich, worked as a clerk at a law firm in L.A. in the nineties. That's where she met Linda, who worked as a receptionist. Linda was tall with blond hair, a talented artist who was fascinated with precious stones and knew how to make jewelry. When I sat down with Lisa Gingrich, she confirms a key detail from The notebook about Linda's relationship with a doctor.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:12:26
In 1996 did she ever talk with you about being involved with a doctor?
Lisa Gingrich
00:12:35
Yes.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:12:36
What can you tell me about that?
Lisa Gingrich
00:12:38
He shot her up with heroin.
Thomas Lake
00:12:41
I visit another friend of Linda's, and she remembers even more about Linda and the doctor.
Lisa Gingrich
00:12:47
He was a client and shooting her up with heroin. So that's when I questioned her. Who? Who was he? And wanted his phone number. And that's what prompted me to call him. My conversation was brief but effective. I simply told him that I knew what he was doing with the drugs and my, my good friend Linda and that if anything happened to her, if she died or if she was in any kind of trouble as a result of a drug overdose, that I was going to the authorities and I was going to expose him.
Thomas Lake
00:13:29
As Detective Steve Miller investigated Adrienne Brown's death in 1996, long before he met Linda, he did try to find this doctor that Linda was seeing. He kept showing up at the doctor's office, hoping for an interview. He never got one, but he may have come closer to cracking the case than he realized. According to Linda's notebook, the doctor knew a police detective was trying to track him down, and he was terrified of being found. Here's our producer again reading what Linda wrote that the doctor told her.
Rachel
00:14:00
There's one detective. He knows I did it. Was this you, Steve? They're going to get me. It's just a matter of time.
Thomas Lake
00:14:10
I should make something clear here. Well, this doctor did treat Adrienne, he was not one of the two doctors who performed her cosmetic surgery. As I look into his past, more unsettling details emerge. Shortly after Adrienne's death, another of his patients died after overdosing on drugs he prescribed. I also find a lawyer who investigated this doctor, and the lawyer tells me the doctor had a history of drug addiction. Less than a month after Linda Bennett's heroin overdose, this mysterious doctor sold his house in Los Angeles. He left California and got a medical license in another state. It's 2018 when I plug his name into the Nexus Public Records database and find his new address. 22 years after Adrienne Brown's death. I make a plan to do what Detective Miller never did, show up at the doctor's front door and confront him face to face. I fly to his new state and drive to his new town. I pull up to his house and turn on my recorder.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:15:14
Many roses blooming in the front yard. Purple. Red. White. Yellow. Two cars in the driveway. Ranch house.
Thomas Lake
00:15:22
Given all the dangerous stuff I've uncovered in the world of Jacque Hollander, James and Adrienne Brown and now Linda Bennett, I've made an unusual request to my bosses at CNN. It's the first time in my career I've brought an armed security guard with me to knock on someone's door. What I've learned so far seems to support Jacque's claims about this shadowy machine that surrounded James Brown. I'm hoping the doctor will shed more light on it. If he did kill Adrienne Brown, why? Was he hired by someone? Was Adrienne killed because she was about to testify against Brown or because she knew too much about Brown's government connections? It's a hot morning in July as the security guard and I walk up to the front porch. My heart is pounding. I knock on the door. To my surprise, the doctor answers. He's a handsome man in his sixties with gray hair and broad shoulders. He's wearing shorts and no shirt. I tell him I'm with CNN and I'm here to ask some questions about James Brown's late wife. He doesn't invite us in, but he doesn't tell us to leave either. So I stand there on the porch asking him questions. We can't play the doctor's voice for you because we're not identifying him. But I can tell you what he says. He claims to have Alzheimer's disease. He has a vague recollection of Linda Bennett, but denies having an affair with her. He says he saw Adrienne Brown only once and he denies sneaking into her recovery room to give her a fatal drug overdose.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:16:55
Sir, would you mind if I just sat down here for a moment and that way I can read some of this to you, and then you'll, you'll understand a little better.
Thomas Lake
00:17:01
I'm carrying a manila folder containing a transcription of some of the pages from Linda Bennett's notebook. The doctor tells me to go ahead. So I sit down on one of the chairs on the porch. I open my folder and begin to read from Linda's notebook.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:17:18
And Bennett wrote about you: I know he murdered James Brown's wife, as he referred to her. I know he knew he did and was trying desperately to cover. I know because he told me. He told me so himself. Then he tried to kill me.
Doctor
00:17:41
(laughs).
Thomas Lake
00:17:41
That's how the doctor responds to Linda's allegations, he laughs. I keep reading from The notebook.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:17:47
I remember thinking, maybe knowing she wasn't the only one. This mother was murder for hire.
Thomas Lake
00:17:55
Eventually, the doctor stops me. He says It's crazy. Nothing like that happened. And he has no idea why Linda would accuse him of a thing like that. He stands up. The doctor goes inside, leaving us on his front porch. The interview is over. My mind is racing.
Thomas Lake
00:18:23
Linda Bennett wrote that Adrienne's death was premeditated murder and the doctor didn't act alone. This fits with something Jacque told me about her terrible trip to Dallas when she was stuck in mystery Steve's apartment with his investigator friend Brian. Around the time Adrienne Brown died, Steve called himself the Angel of Death and said he worked for the CIA. Jacque also says he took multiple phone calls from a doctor at the apartment in Dallas. Could this have been the same doctor Linda mentioned in her notebook? And if so, where they all in on a murder together? In Dallas, Brian kept getting these mysterious phone calls.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:19:05
He kept coming in going, "The doctor is on the phone. "
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:19:08
Who said this?
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:19:10
Brian to Steve, that the doctor was on the phone. And Steve would always go to the bedroom and take the call in private. He would go into the bedroom and shut the door. It would be a lengthy conversation and then he would come out.
Thomas Lake
00:19:28
After the doctor denies the claims from Linda's notebook, it's hard to know where to go from here. Given the passage of time and the lack of physical evidence, we may never be sure what happened to Adrienne Brown. But the more I dig, the more similarities I find between Adrienne's death in 1996 and James Brown's death a decade later. Shortly after Detective Miller finally reads the informant's notebook, there's another bombshell. A close friend of James Brown agrees to sit down for an interview and talk about Brown's death on Christmas 2006. And this friend tells me he's convinced that James Brown was murdered in his hospital room.
Andre White
00:20:10
Things I'm telling you now, no one has ever told. Ever, ever been told, what I'm telling you. His children don't even know.
Thomas Lake
00:20:34
It's a summer morning in Georgia, and I'm sitting in Andre White's car. He was one of James Brown's best friends. White is a towering man, 72 years old, a former pro football player who also worked as a music promoter and newspaper publisher. Andre and James knew each other for almost 50 years, and Andre White does not believe James Brown died of natural causes.
Andre White, Recording
00:21:00
I would like to know who basically killled him.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:21:05
How certain are you that someone did kill him?
Andre White, Recording
00:21:13
Just as sure as you're sitting in the car.
Thomas Lake
00:21:16
Andre White takes me back to December 2006. He says he got a call from Brown's lawyer who wanted him to persuade Brown to see a doctor. Brown suffered from various ailments in his later years, including diabetes and prostate cancer, and his drug abuse made everything worse. When White learned Brown would be in Atlanta for a dentist's appointment, he met up with his old friend and tried to talk some sense into him.
Andre White, Recording
00:21:41
I said, "Why you don't want to go to the hospital and find out what's wrong?" "They ask all these questions. They nosin' around." I said, "I promise you, Mr. Brown. Nobody will ask you no questions over there other than what they need to know about your health."
Thomas Lake
00:22:02
So White talked Brown into going to a hospital where he could be treated by someone White knew and trusted, Dr. Marvin Crawford.
Andre White, Recording
00:22:11
And I called up Crawford. I said "Dr. Crawford, I need your help. I need someone to meet Mr. Brown. At the hospital. And not say nothing."
Thomas Lake
00:22:30
Dr. Crawford agreed to do this as White tells me this story in his car on this summer morning, we're waiting for Dr. Crawford to join us. He's not just a medical doctor and a friend of Andre White, he's also the pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church where we're parked. The doctor pulls up in a black sedan and leads us into the sanctuary. There he tells us about treating James Brown in the last days of 2006. There's a photographer with us, so you'll hear some camera shutter sounds in the background while we're talking.
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:23:03
That he was slightly short of breath but cohesive, coherent, responsive, joking at the time.
Thomas Lake
00:23:15
In a two room VIP suite at the hospital, Dr. Crawford got to work. The doctor found symptoms of congestive heart failure and determined that Brown had had a mild heart attack. So Dr. Crawford put the Godfather of Soul on oxygen and gave him an IV drip to help him recover.
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:23:32
He improved fast. Boom boom boom. I mean, like he he could have walked out of the hospital himself if he'd wanted to, but we wouldn't let him go yet. He had improvied, breathing much better.
Thomas Lake
00:23:43
It was Sunday night, Christmas Eve, 2006. Crawford thought James Brown could go home the following Wednesday, if not sooner. So with his patient steadily improving, Dr. Crawford went home to spend Christmas Eve with his family. Andre White left too. Dr. Crawford, was at home asleep in his bed when he woke up to an urgent phone call from the hospital. He got dressed and rushed back to check on his patient.
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:24:09
James Brown had stopped breathing, his heart had stopped.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:24:14
As you're out on the road in the middle of the night, Christmas morning, hearing this information. What's going through your mind as a doctor?
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:24:24
What went wrong? What happened? Why did he change? Did anything happen to him that was not medical related? It changed too fast. He was a- he was a patient I would never have predicted would have coded. But he died that night. And I did raise that question: what went wrong in that room?
Thomas Lake
00:24:48
Doctors rarely give interviews about their patients' health. Rarer still is an on the record interview with a doctor who treated a major celebrity and then raises questions about that celebrity's death. As I sit here in the sanctuary, I can feel the weight of this moment. Brown's friend Andre White also has a lot of questions about the night Brown died. He heard the news and rushed back to the hospital in the middle of the night. And when he got to the room, he found his friend's body lying there on the bed. It hadn't yet been taken away. At this point, a woman entered the room, a nurse, he figured, and told him something very odd: that a man in dark clothes came into Brown's room the night he died. A man who didn't seem to be part of Brown's entourage, White says the nurse seemed to connect the appearance of the stranger in black with James Brown's sudden death. Then the nurse gave Andre White something unexpected.
Andre White, Recording
00:25:46
And the lady gave me a vile of blood.
Thomas Lake
00:25:51
I know it sounds hard to believe, but I keep listening because this story is coming from one of James Brown's closest friends and because the doctor who signed Brown's death certificate is listening and adding details of his own. Brown was recovering from a heart attack when a strange man sneaked into his room. Something bad happened and Brown suddenly died. Then a nurse drew blood out of Brown's I.V. line and gave the vial to Andre White, apparently because she believed James Brown was murdered.
Thomas Lake
00:26:25
In the five years since this interview, I've been unable to find the nurse who White says gave him the vial of blood. I don't know who she was. I have no definitive proof she was real. But White insists the nurse was there. He says she told him to get the vial of blood tested for some kind of drug residue.
Andre White, Recording
00:26:44
Don't, don't get me in trouble. That's what she says. Oh, don't give me any trouble. I'm thanking her.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:26:54
Exactly where would the blood have come from? Like, where is she getting from?
Andre White, Recording
00:26:58
Out of Mr. Brown.
Thomas Lake
00:27:00
This interview is getting more surreal by the moment. I'm sitting with a guy who claims to have a vial of James Brown's blood. He won't tell me where it is or how it's being preserved, but more than a decade after Brown died, Andre White believes it's evidence that his friend was murdered.
Andre White, Recording
00:27:18
I'm waiting when the officials come, and I know that they're who they are. It's going to be tested.
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:27:27
Yes, sir.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:27:28
Has there ever been a time for either of you where you thought, Okay, how can I get some legal authorities involved here somehow to perhaps get a real investigation of what happened?
Andre White, Recording
00:27:53
I hope that's what you can do. I hope your story will do, will get somebody to start saying "This is a cold case that needs to be looked into."
Thomas Lake
00:28:08
Crawford and White say when they called two men in Brown's inner circle to share their suspicions, they were discouraged from digging into the matter any further. One of them, Brown's accountant, told them to let it go. Nevertheless, Andre White did try to tell the authorities what happened with the nurse the night James Brown died. He spoke to an Atlanta Police Department detective. This detective referred him to Paul Howard, who was then the district attorney in Atlanta. White says the DA scheduled a meeting, then postponed it without explanation. White says the meeting was never rescheduled. When I checked with Howard spokesmen about this in 2019, he said there was no record that White had ever contacted his office. There is, of course, another way to find out what killed James Brown. Do an autopsy. And Dr. Crawford tells me that's exactly what he wanted.
Andre White, Recording
00:29:02
You know, I asked his daughter who was here, about having an autopsy. Only because I want to know what happened.
Thomas Lake
00:29:09
James Brown's daughter Yamma was the first of his children to arrive at the hospital when she found out her father had died. When Dr. Crawford asked her to authorize an autopsy, Yamma declined. This isn't unusual. Sometimes people would rather not subject their departed relative to one last invasive procedure. I asked her about this when I was writing a magazine story about Brown's son-in-law, and Yamma wouldn't explain her decision. She told me she had her own personal reasons for not consenting to an autopsy. Anyway, Dr. Crawford says when he was at the hospital that night with Yamma, her husband, Darren Lumar, was there. And Lumar got so loud and angry about Brown's death that someone called security.
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:29:54
He was irate. He accused them of killing James Brown. Security came to get him.
Thomas Lake
00:30:01
And what were the sorts of things you heard him say at that time?
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:30:07
He made accusations and the one phrase that they killed him.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:30:15
Darren was saying they killed him.
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:30:17
I was surprised he said it so open, so boldly. But sure said it.
Thomas Lake
00:30:21
Lumar didn't say who had killed James Brown, just that they had.
Marvin Crawford, Recording
00:30:27
I can't say for sure, but it could have gotten him killed.
Thomas Lake
00:30:34
It could have got him killed, Andre White says. This is the same thing Jacque told me about Darren Lumar, that Lumar was shot to death nearly two years later because he said too much about his father-in-law's death. Later, when I interviewed James Brown's manager, Frank Copsidas, about this theory, he takes it a step further.
Frank Copsidas, Recording
00:30:54
I understand that Darren threatened to go public with all the information he had the day he was murdered.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:31:03
And what happened next?
Frank Copsidas, Recording
00:31:07
Really nothing much other than he was gunned down. A contract killing.
Thomas Lake
00:31:24
By early 2018, I've come a long way in my investigation. I've spoken to Steve Miller, the detective who investigated Adrienne Brown's death and now thinks he has evidence that Adrienne was murdered. The doctor who signed James Brown's death certificate has told me he wanted an autopsy to find what went wrong in Brown's hospital room. And Brown's close friend says he has a vial of blood that could prove Brown was murdered. I persuade my editors to let me write a series of stories about what I've learned. It'll be released on CNN's website as we get closer to publishing, weird things start happening to Jacque Hollander. In February 2018. Jacque is in Hugo, Oklahoma, when she sees a disturbing sight.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:32:12
There was blood all over the back of my motorhome.
Thomas Lake
00:32:16
Jacque also finds her skylight smashed. It looks to her as if someone climbed on top of her motorhome, smashed the glass of her skylight and cut their foot on the broken glass, leaving a trail of blood as they escaped.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:32:29
And these idiots, these freakin idiots, had tried to come in through the top of my motorhome, through my skylight.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:32:38
Who do you think this could have been trying to?
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:32:41
Oh, it was them looking for the evidence. They knew I was out on the road. They knew that I had a lot of stuff with me. Let's just call them the James Brown Machine.
Thomas Lake
00:32:56
Jacque can't prove who broke into her motor home or why, but strange things like this keep happening. A few weeks later, as I'm knocking on doors and asking questions, Jacque gets so scared about the repercussions from my reporting that she decides to leave the circus for her own safety. I fly to Texas and ride with her to Oklahoma, where she drops off her motorhome and picks up her other vehicle, a Hummer H3.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:33:23
It is an intimidating car.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:33:25
And that's the reason you got it. Because of that and because-.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:33:28
You got that right.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:33:29
Because it makes you feel safe. Because it can drive through water because it can drive through the mountains.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:33:32
Yes.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:33:33
It just feels like-
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:33:34
If they come after me, I can get through things they can't.
Thomas Lake, Recording
00:33:37
The big, bad and tough in this thing.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:33:39
Yes. You got that right.
Thomas Lake
00:33:44
No one tests Jacque's combat driving skills on this road trip from Texas to Illinois. But as we pass through Missouri-
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:33:51
That's not good. My check engine light is on.
Thomas Lake
00:33:57
The Hummer is driving strangely. Laboring under some unknown strain. The check engine light stays on. In Illinois, Jacque takes the Hummer to a mechanic who tells her something is wrong with the PCV valve and it looks as if someone has done this intentionally. As if we drove 850 miles in a sabotaged vehicle. But once again, even if someone did tamper with Jacque's SUV, there's no way to prove who did it or why. I fly home to Atlanta and keep knocking on doors, keep pushing for answers about the deaths of James and Adrienne Brown. More weird things happen. I get strange text messages about James Brown from unknown people. One text says There's a guy in Atlanta who will jump off a bridge for the Browns. This person has a violent past and a hair trigger of a temper and will get accomplices to carry out violence. It sounds like I'm being threatened. As I continue my reporting these incidents get more frequent and more disturbing.
911 Operator, Recording
00:35:01
Police Department.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:35:01
Okay, um, I've had two calls tonight. They came in like within minutes of each other. And they knew my name. It came on a No Caller ID and they threatened my life.
911 Operator, Recording
00:35:19
All right. I have an officer stop over.
Thomas Lake
00:35:22
As Jacque waits for the officer to arrive, she calls me and describes what happened. She says the caller made graphic threats to rape and kill her. She thinks the caller was a woman. I'm still on the phone with Jacque when the police officer gets there. She tells him about the threats. He asks her who the caller was.
Police Officer, Recording
00:35:41
Any idea who this might be?
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:35:43
Yeah.
Thomas Lake
00:35:45
Jacque thinks the unidentified caller is someone she met in Georgia a couple of years ago. A woman who used to sing in James Brown's band. Jacque has some items that once belonged to this woman. She believes they're evidence of a crime. The same crime Jacque's been asking me to help her solve all along. This woman denies making the threatening phone calls to Jacque. She denies doing anything to hurt James Brown and says Jacque misunderstood her words. But Jacque says this woman confessed to killing the Godfather of Soul.
Thomas Lake
00:36:31
On the next episode of the James Brown Mystery.
Jacque Hollander, Recording
00:36:34
She said, I have something to tell you and she started crying.
Candice, Recording
00:36:39
I did not kill James Brown. I wanted the best for him. I loved him. I wouldn't hurt a hair on his head.
Thomas Lake
00:36:48
The James Brown Mystery is hosted and reported by me, Thomas Lake. Our executive producer is Abbie Fentress Swanson. Our senior producer is Felicia Patinkin and our producers are Rachel Cohn, Anne Lagamayo, Lori Galaretta, and Jennifer Lai. Our associate producers are Emanuel Johnson, Nathan Miller and Sonia Htoon, and our production assistant is Eden Getachew. Our story editor is David Weinberg and our production manager is Tameeka Ballance-Kolasny. Liz Roberts and Kyra Posey lead audience strategy for our show, and Jamus Andrest and Nichole Pesaru designed our artwork. Erica Huang is our mix engineer and sound designer. Celena Urabe is our assistant sound engineer, and Dan Dzula is the CNN Audio's senior manager of production operations. Theme and original music composed by David Steinberg and Nathan Miller. Special thanks to Mia Taylor, Courtney Coupe, Katie Hinman, Lindsay Abrams, Robert Mathers, Dalila Paul, Andrea White, Anissa Gray, Johnita Due, Ram Ramgopal, Lisa Namerow, and John Dianora.