The Obit For Gary Brown

2 found dead after West Rogers Park fire: 'I can't believe this'
Source: Both victims stabbed, wrapped in blankets, burned

By Carlos Sadovi and William Lee
ChicagoTribune.com
August 29, 2012

Carol Szynal last heard from her ex-husband Gary Brown on Monday, in a text message about how much he was looking forward to a vacation in San Francisco.

A day later, Brown and a woman who shared a West Rogers Park apartment were found stabbed to death after firefighters were called to a small fire, authorities said.

Brown, 64, and Chun Xiao Lee, 48, were lying side-by-side on a bed, wrapped in blankets, in the bedroom of a third-floor apartment in the 6400 block of North Sacramento Avenue, police said. Officers found a melted gasoline container and other canisters with flammable liquids, a law enforcement source.

Police were saying little about the deaths and there were no reports of arrests. Both Brown and Lee died from multiple stab wounds and cuts in homicides, the Cook County medical examiner's office determined following autopsies today.

"It's a tragedy, he won't see his children marry, he won't see his grandchildren and he won't see retirement. He was a year shy," said Szynal.

Brown was an attorney who worked as a prosecutor and city attorney in Kankakee. He once pitched in the minor leagues for the Montreal Expos.

Szynal said her former husband was a good friend she met 40 years ago while they were students at Indiana University. She said the two were married for 27 years and had twin daughters, Christina and Jessica, and a son Timothy.

"He's always been a wonderful man, he was talented," she said.

Brown graduated from Indiana University in 1971 with a business degree. While attending college, he pitched in the Montreal Expos farm system from 1969 to 1971, according to Szynal and his LinkedIn page.

He went on to John Marshall Law School, where he graduated in 1976. Brown worked as an assistant state's attorney in Kankakee County for about a year and as a city attorney in Kankakee under Mayor Russell Johnson for about eight years, according to Szynal and his LinkedIn page.

Then he went into a private practice for 21 years before leaving the field of law, she said. He went to work at a non-profit organization, the Howard Area Employment Resource Center, where he taught computers, she said.

About a year ago, Brown moved into the apartment in the 6400 block of North Sacramento Avenue where Lee lived. Brown needed a place to live and Lee's roommate had moved out, Szynal said. The two had met at the center, she said.

Charles Hardwick, manager of the center, said the office was closed today after they found out about Brown's death.

"He was just a decent guy, he loved his family," said Hardwick. "I can't believe this, I can't believe what has happened."