Out of Hand

Michael Glyn Brown was recently acquitted of assaulting his wife. But that's only the latest allegation against the violent, drug-abusing doctor, long a fixture of Houston TV commercials and society.

Because Brown and his older sisters, Glenda Hughes and Jeanne Jeffcoat, did not speak to the Houston Press, we don't have much information about Brown's childhood. The scant information we have is contained in a series of letters he wrote between 1999 and 2001 and addressed to his daughter Sophie.

Brown wrote reverently of his father, Glyn, who died in 2000 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It seemed to crush Brown, who mentions his mother only in passing. Brown's memories of his father are strikingly conventional: He was a welder who always told Brown to do his best and to "never give up." Brown's mother Thelma is barely mentioned, but Glyn Brown is simply a stock character, dutifully playing the role of the loving father.

In hundreds of pages, Brown doesn't mention his sisters, but he spends several nostalgic pages on a beloved fishing lure. While he spends an incredible amount of time writing about how he's struggled with suicidal thoughts for much of his life, he doesn't hint at childhood trauma or any single triggering event. His demons, eventually diagnosed by a doctor as bipolar disorder, seem to have appeared spontaneously.

Third wife Darlina Brown gained sole custody of daughters Sophie and Layla and moved out of state.
Deron Neblett
Third wife Darlina Brown gained sole custody of daughters Sophie and Layla and moved out of state.
The original Hand Center commercial with Sophie.
The original Hand Center commercial with Sophie.

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READ MORE:
FEATURE: The Good Doctor -- Michael Brown made it big in the hand clinic business. But as his wife discovered, there was a much darker side to this dynamic surgeon.
FESTURE: Taking His Medicine -- Troubled hand surgeon Michael Brown pursues custody of his two children
BLOG POSTS: Previous coverage of Dr. Michael Brown

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He graduated from Galena Park Senior High (with honors, as he would want you to know) in 1975. As he would later write in "Letters to Sophie," his high school counselor saw great promise in the "long-haired but smart and principled" kid whose 183 IQ made him smarter than his teachers. The counselor told Brown he should go to Harvard or Princeton or Yale, or "at the very least...[the] University of Texas."

Instead, he chose Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, now called Texas State University-San Marcos. He liked being able to drive his Harley through the Hill County and scuba-dive in the "crystal clear" river. (He would also want you to know that his grade point average was 3.97.)

From there, it was on to Baylor College of Medicine; he received his Texas medical license in 1983. According to his online bio, Brown was "personally asked" by legendary cardiovascular surgeon Michael DeBakey "to stay at Baylor affiliated hospitals in the Texas Medical Center in preparation for the cardiovascular heart surgery program." But Brown considered the hand "more challenging" and set off on the path that would eventually create his vast fortune.

In 1988, after finishing his surgical training at a hospital in Stockton, California, he founded the Brown Hand Center.

In the ensuing years, he would not only make money from that and other hand centers, he would patent a medical device used to endoscopically treat carpal tunnel syndrome and sell it, and other medical devices, through a company called Instratek. This initial device was an improvement of an existing device, and it allowed Brown and his partners to complete an operation in minutes. It was a high-volume, high-dollar enterprise.

But as Brown's professional career skyrocketed, his personal life crumbled.

Little is known about his first marriage, which dissolved in 1984. But his second wife, Deborah Jaramillo (who would go on to become a respected restaurateur), left him after he began to build his empire. A hint of the marital strife can be found in one of Brown's seven self-published books, Kilimanjaro: Safari in Tanzania.

In the book's closing chapter, Brown writes about pummeling Jaramillo's neck while in the throes of a nightmare about a lion attack: "I flung off the sweat drenched sheets and gasped. 'GODDAMN!' I could see Debbie's face over me and she was shaking me, telling me to wake up, that it was only another one of the dreams that I had been having every week for the last three months since my return from Africa.'"

Jaramillo left him six months later, Brown wrote, saying she had to "find herself."

But there was a silver lining. Brown found the woman who would become his next wife.

"Michael Brown is now quite content with a beautiful, twenty year old blond-haired, blue-eyed, loving, caring and affectionate woman named Darlina," he wrote. "Mike asked Darlina, 'Would you like to go hunting with me sometime?' Darlina answered, 'Of course I would. I want to go everywhere and do everything with you!'"

But Brown still had to endure grueling divorce proceedings, which occurred in the midst of fraud suits filed against Brown by former employees; the maelstrom of litigation is the first official recording of allegations of Brown's paranoia, drug use, alcoholism and death threats against perceived enemies.
_____________________

By the time Brown served Jaramillo with divorce papers in 1993, he had covered the windows of his Woodlands home with reflective material so no one could spy on him.

According to former employees, he walked the grounds of his estate with a holstered pistol and pored over catalogs of surveillance equipment. One of his servants, John McKeon, swore in an affidavit that he kept a diary during his three years working for Brown. He testified to seeing Brown use cocaine, as well as "abusing alcohol, sometimes while he was on call for emergencies." McKeon also testified that, in 1992, when Brown and Jaramillo were still together, he overheard Jaramillo order prescription drugs — ostensibly for McKeon — that were meant for Brown. Also in 1992, McKeon became aware that Brown had been taking lithium "for his psychological disorders."

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18 comments
GUEST
GUEST like.author.displayName 1 Like

No one need to think that people in his past have not tried to stop him, they have and they paid the price for crossing him. He has plenty of money and knows plenty of people to carry through on his threats! The almighty dollar has kept him from paying the consequences that any other person would have to pay. When will it be enough and when will he get what he deserves???? Will it be enough when he takes the lives of innocent people and then his own?? Unfortunately, I believe that will be the only "stop" to him and his "reign of terror"!!!

az
az

Mr. DeGuerin is an amazing lawyer. But, it stops there. His associate, Sean Buckley, has repeatedly made sexual advancements toward me. I informed Mr. DeGuerin but Mr. Buckley was not fired after I provided numerous sexually explicit text messages from Mr. Buckley in September 2011. Now, Mr. Buckley is again trying to make dates me with, buying me gifts and the firm still represents me. Mr. Buckley has put his sexual desires before his legal representation....clearly violated the Texas Bar Ethics Rules. Why has he not been fired?

Guest
Guest

Mr. DeGuerin is an amazing lawyer. But, it stops there. His associate, Sean Buckley, has repeatedly made sexual advancements toward me. I informed Mr. DeGuerin but Mr. Buckley was not fired after I provided numerous sexually explicit text messages from Mr. Buckley in September 2011. Now, Mr. Buckley is again trying to make dates me with, buying me gifts and the firm still represents me. Mr. Buckley has put his sexual desires before his legal representation....clearly violated the Texas Bar Ethics Rules. Why has he not been fired?

Vila
Vila

Everytime I saw the ad with Sophie saying "Daddy's baby girl", it gave me the creeps...he reminds me of a pedophile.

azinn
azinn

Mr. DeGuerin is an amazing lawyer. But, it stops there. His associate, Sean Buckley, has repeatedly made sexual advancements toward me. I informed Mr. DeGuerin but Mr. Buckley was not fired after I provided numerous sexually explicit text messages from Mr. Buckley in September 2011. Now, Mr. Buckley is again trying to make dates me with, buying me gifts and the firm still represents me. Mr. Buckley has put his sexual desires before his legal representation....clearly violated the Texas Bar Ethics Rules. Why has he not been fired?

EMME
EMME

Sounds like my ex-husband. Having lived it (for 8 very long months), I can say, you pegged it perfectly, what it's like to live with a narcissist. Very well done, Craig.

Fatima Foust
Fatima Foust

Reading this article made me want to throw up. I would like to know what possessed the jurors to acquit a man such as Michael Brown. Oh wait, that's right, we acquit celebrity murderers and psychotic moms. Seriously, what were they thinking? This man is evil and calculating. Whether or not his latest wife was a gold digger doesn not or should not even be a factor in the fact that he beat her and abused her. Your article was nicely done! Too bad it's such a sad story...

Count Chimerical
Count Chimerical

I've always been a big Houston Press (even though you refuse to consider any of my blogs) but when credit is due credit is due. This piece was not only riveting to read but also one of the best bits of journalistic reporting I've read in a long long time from any source. Nice job Craig.

Amy N
Amy N

I had foot surgery by an affiliate of the hand surgical place. You should see this place! there are huge marble "Roman Gladiator" busts (statues) in Brown's image. They were creepy, like his commercials, and like the vibe you get from just looking at him.

BD
BD

Great article, more people need to be the voice of those of us without the big bucks.

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

Of course it's biased genius! You, Michael Brown and Casey Anthony can go get your freak on in a pasture.

Dudley "Booger" Dawson
Dudley "Booger" Dawson

Dear Michael Brown: Become an hero.

Wyatt
Wyatt

Holy shit, did /b/ just invade the Houston Press comments?

p.s. I second the advice

Michellerenee68
Michellerenee68

The guy needs to be locked up! he is a nutty as a shit house rat!

MadMac
MadMac

This is like reading a psychiatric train wreck.

 
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