Iowa teen who ran away during snowstorm died of head injury, autopsy shows

Preliminary autopsy results show that an Iowa boy who was found dead Sunday, more than four days after he ran away during a snowstorm, died of a head injury he sustained in a fall.

Corey Brown, 13, of Marshalltown, died in a fall off a communication tower about a mile from his home, the Times-Republican in Marshalltown reported Wednesday. Marshalltown police Chief Mike Tupper told the newspaper the teen suffered a significant head injury and blunt force trauma.

"We don't know why Corey was climbing the tower, what happened, how he fell off the tower," Tupper told the Times-Republican. "All I know is that he was there, and he fell. Nobody was there to talk to Corey, so we obviously can't know his frame of mind."

Credit: Marshalltown Police Department

Credit: Marshalltown Police Department

WHO-TV reported that Corey climbed over a fence to access the site of the tower. It was not clear how high he managed to climb before falling to his death.

The preliminary findings of the autopsy indicated that the eighth-grader's injuries were not survivable, the Times-Republican reported. He likely died the night he left home on Jan. 22.

Toxicology results on the teen are pending, Tupper said.

>> Related story: Iowa 13-year-old found dead after running away over cellphone fight with parents

Corey's parents reported him missing the morning of Jan. 23 when they found his bedroom empty, the Times-Republican reported. Security footage from the home showed him leaving around 11 p.m. the night before, during a winter weather advisory.

The teen was upset following an argument with his parents, during which they took his cellphone away.

"Anyone with kids has had discussions with their children about household rules," Tupper told NBC News. "This was a typical parent-teenager interaction. No anger. Nothing extraordinary."

More than a dozen law enforcement agencies from around Iowa joined Marshalltown first responders in four days of search efforts, which were hindered by harsh winter conditions. More than 6 inches of snow fell the night Corey left home and the following day.

Temperatures topped out at 29 degrees while the boy was missing and the lowest temperature, recorded Friday morning, was -9 degrees, NBC News reported.

Corey's body was discovered shortly before noon Sunday in an area of Marshalltown described as secluded. Google Street View images from June 2018 show multiple communications towers in the block where he was found.

The funeral home handling the boy’s arrangements is across the street from the area where his body was found.

"We ask that everyone is cautious in how they talk about this and try to stick to the facts," Tupper told the Times-Republican. "I realize that people are going to have questions, but the family has been through a lot.

“We want to just continue to pray for Corey and the Brown family.”

Corey's obituary states that a funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Henry Catholic Church in Marshalltown. A visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at the church, with a candlelight vigil immediately following the visitation.

The teen will be buried at Riverside Cemetery.

About the Author