WHERE IS HE?—The family of Dominick Brown-Hill stand together by photos of him at his Remembrance Dinner on March 22. Family, from left: Lisa Zellars, mother; Robert Zellars stepfather; Raymar, best friend; and Michael Brown, brother. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)
Smart, strong-willed, loving, giving, and a true family oriented person, are just a few of the words Dominick Brown-Hill’s family uses to describe him. But the thoughts of that same person that used to bring them a smile, now brings them tears.
Lisa Zellars, Brown-Hill’s mother, describes the year since the disappearance of her son, as one of pain and as if a piece of her has been missing.
On March 22, one year to the day Brown-Hill was last seen, family, friends and supporters, gathered at the Nuin Center in East Liberty to remember their loved one and bring attention to the case that is still unsolved.
“From a mother, it’s like a piece of me has been ripped away. I just need closure and my body can’t get closure,” said Lisa Zellars. “I live day by day and so does my family. We just want for people to remember he is still missing. They (the media) say it’s not new news, but it is to me, because he is still missing.”
On March 22, 2012 Brown-Hill, who was then 21, was last seen getting into a jitney in Penn Hills. When he did not show up the next day to meet up with his father to take his driver’s test and he did not answer or return his mother’s calls for a couple of days, Lisa Zellars knew something was wrong.
According to Lisa Zellars, who said she and the police believe her son is deceased; detectives were able to track some of Brown-Hill’s last activities through his text messages on his cell phone. She said Brown-Hill took a jitney to meet someone in McKeesport, who that person is, she does not know. When Brown-Hill arrived at his destination, he got out of the jitney, instructed the driver to wait, left his phone in the car and went into a building, but he never came out. After about an hour the driver left and later pawned Brown-Hill’s phone. According to Lisa Zellars, the driver, who took and passed several polygraphs, is not a suspect, and it’s believed that whatever happened in the building is what took her son away from her.
“I feel cheated and I am hurting really bad. I miss my son. I am angry because I cannot fix this. I raised Dominick,” said Robert Zellars, Brown-Hill’s father. “His whole life, as his father, I told him I would be there for him. It kills me on the inside that I wasn’t able to be there for him (that day). But he knows I’m coming.”
It is unknown who Brown-Hill was meeting at that McKeesport building and why he was meeting them there.
Allegheny County Police Detective Lou Ferguson said he could not speak much on the active case, but did said they are treating it as a missing person presumed deceased case and that it will remain an active case until Brown-Hill is discovered.
Since her son’s disappearance, Lisa Zellars said she has lost 40 pounds and she can only work part-time because she finds herself breaking down a lot. And Robert Zellars said he finds himself keeping to himself a lot, but that his faith has gotten stronger.
But while they may not have hope that Brown-Hill is still alive, they do have hope that someone will come forward with information about the case. Family and friends have raised a $5,000 reward for anyone with information that will lead to their loved one’s body.
“Being a mother I know my son is deceased. I just want someone to come forward and give a tip,” said Lisa Zellars. “Think of being in my shoes. Imagine that pain. One day you talk to them and the next they’re gone. I pray everyday that someone will have a conscience and tell me where my son is or that someone will stumble across my son’s body.”
Robert Zellars said he understands the codes of the streets, “he doesn’t want anyone to tell on themselves, but he does want someone to give them information. “We need this (closure), we need someone to step up.”
(Anyone with information about the Dominick Brown-Hill case should call Allegheny County Police at 412-473-1200.)