How did Mark Brown manage to avoid arrest until 2021?
His first victim was Leah Ware in 2018 who had been staying in his storage container home on a farm in Hastings. She had a crack cocaine addiction and suffered with mental health issues.
Mark used this as a way to control her and kept her in the unit and stopped her being able to leave at all.
They had met on Adultworks which a site used to sell sexual desires.
Mark also met his 2nd victim Alex on the same site two years later.
Mark managed to avoid detection because he targeted women who society had forgot about, families and friends had given up and due to bad life choices they received little sympathy by the general public.
No one reported Leah missing in the same way they did when Alex went missing years later.
An investigation had been launched on 18 November 2021 when Alex Morgan’s parents reported her missing to Kent Police after she failed to return home as expected.
A mother of two young children, Alex had met Brown through an adult services website. Extensive detective work established – via hours of analysing ANPR and CCTV footage as well as Alex’s phone records – that on Sunday 14 November, she had driven from her home in Sissinghurst near Cranbrook to meet Brown at Little Bridge Farm.
Brown, of Squirrel Close, St Leonards, East Sussex, was charged with her murder on 28 November 2021 after evidence showed he had murdered Alex at Little Bridge Farm and burned her body in an oil drum.
Officers found the oil drum at a building site near Sevenoaks where Brown was employed, and forensic odontologists used dental records to confirm the remains were that of Alex Morgan.
After appearing in court, Brown was presented with this evidence and subsequently admitted burning Alex’s body after she died but insisted he was not responsible for her murder, rather that she died after slipping and falling over at the site.
Phone records show it started on October 23: On WhatsApp, Brown offers Ms Morgan an escorting job paying up to £100,000. A few weeks later on November 13 Ms Morgan’s parents collect her son and dog to allow her to go on a trip for four days. She tells family members she is going on a spa weekend with a friend but is in fact meeting Brown for sex at Little Bridge Farm.
On November 14: Ms Morgan leaves home and is seen on CCTV buying fuel at Ashwal Garage in Cranbrook at 7.20am. She arrives at Little Bridge Farm at about 8am. Ms Morgan is killed by Brown and he destroys her remains by burning her body in a home-made incinerator.
On November 17: Brown and an associate move Ms Morgan’s car to Holmhurst Lane, St Leonards, where it is left with false number plates. Brown dumps the oil barrel containing Ms Morgan’s remains into a skip at a building site where he worked in Sevenoaks. Ms Morgan fails to return to her parents to pick up her son and dog as planned.
Leah Ware (victim number 1)
While searching Mark Brown’s van, officers found prescription drugs in the name of Leah Ware. Believing she may be able to help with their ongoing enquiries, detectives tried to find Leah but were unable to do so. On 26 November, Kent Police contacted Sussex Police to raise concerns about Leah’s welfare and officers opened a missing person investigation.
Detectives discovered Leah had been in a relationship with Mark Brown, having met him through an adult services website in March 2018, and that she lived in the shipping container he kept at Little Bridge Farm.
However, no one had seen or spoken to Leah since early May 2021. She had not been in contact with family or friends, either in person or online, and detectives established there was no record of her using a mobile phone, accessing her finances, or receiving medical care since that time.
Sussex Police detectives concluded that Mark Brown was the last person to see Leah alive, and that she died on or around the evening of 7 May 2021.
Following her death, Brown had tried to create the impression Leah was still alive.
He collected her weekly prescriptions and made regular withdrawals from her bank account. This conflicted though, with information Brown gave to colleagues and friends about Leah’s whereabouts, telling people she was either in hospital or had taken her own life.
Already in custody for the murder of Alex Morgan, Brown was then interviewed by Sussex Police officers in relation to the disappearance of Leah Ware. He gave no comment and was subsequently charged with her murder on 1 February 2022.
Several victims gave evidence on Monday into the disappearance of Leah including her former drug dealer and a farrier who cared for her horse, Bertie. Her friend Tara Casey also spoke and broke down in tears in front of the jury.
Tara, who met Leah around five years ago, said of her friend: “She was brilliant, bubbly, outgoing, outspoken, she was everything anyone would want in a character, a personality.” Tara confirmed that Leah had mental health issues and used drugs whilst confirming that Mark Brown would send money to the witness via PayPal – she would then take the money out and give it to Leah.
Speaking of her relationship between Leah and Brown, Tara described him as “her sugardaddy”. Tara further told the jury of an ordeal involving Leah and Mark Brown at the Little Bridge Farm site, off Rock Lane in Hastings – the site at which Brown is alleged to have killed Leah and Alex Morgan.
Leah was told to dress “provocatively” and climb into the boot of Brown’s car to allow him to take photos in order to blackmail a business partner – Leah would be given £3,000 in return. After the defendant did not think the original pictures were good enough, the court was told he tried it again.
“There were more props this time,” Tara said. “She mentioned being tied up and a gag was put in her mouth. She said it wasn’t a ball, it was a tube that went down her throat. She was left with it on, in the boot of the car while Lady [Leah’s dog] ran round crying for her to get up. He did what he wanted to her while she was tied up.”
This story is about the risks people take to get by in life and day to day dangers that we might not even consider.
Mark would never have stopped and if Alex hadn’t left her note maybe never convicted.
Detective Superintendent Andy Wolstenholme, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, added: ‘We hope the conviction and sentence of Mark Brown will bring some sense of justice to the families of both Alex and Leah, and allow them to come to terms with the tragic loss of their loved ones.
‘Even though the court case has concluded, we are still committed to following-up all viable lines of enquiry that may help us locate Leah’s body and give her family some of the answers they so desperately want and deserve.’