Caren Taylor Pressley-Brown

I know that I have said before that "this one is a bit different" but this one really is. Like many of the others I caught a television show on this case (by the looks of my research it was likely the show Snapped) and it made it to my list to research.  The problem I came across while doing the research is that I did not find a lot of the information that I remember from the show, and really very little total for that matter.  So I am kind of hoping that someone will read this and comment and fill in some of the blanks.

In August of 2008 the community in and around Richmond Virginia were taken by surprise when a local woman was arrested for attempting to hire someone to murder her ex-boyfriend and his wife.  Caren Pressley-Brown had ran a local insurance agency up until the past year.  She had also served on the county's Chamber of Commerce Board of Director; she was a huge volunteer when it came to great causes.  Yet here she was sitting in jail for solicitation of murder. What went wrong and how did she get to this point?  Many of those close to Caren later said that while part of them was surprised that it had come as far as it did, they also admitted that they kind of saw it coming as her behavior had been on a downward spiral since she lost custody of her son in 2005.  

The following is what my research uncovered.  Caren had dated a man by the name of Steven Crosby in the 1990's.  Sometime near the end of that decade they decided to go their separate ways but Caren did not tell Steve that she was pregnant.  She gave birth to a little boy.  Several years later Steve became aware of the child. At some point he filed for visitation. Then in 2005 Steve received sole custody of the child.  Over the next few years friends say Caren went into a downward spiral.  Most reports will say that she founded a non-profit organization called Children Without a Voice.  The group was a support group of some sort that advocated on behalf of woman who had lost custody, especially those who lost it to abusive spouses.  I found conflicting information on this however because it seems that by 2009 as Caren's case was moving through the courts that the organization was not really either functioning, or she had not been involved for some time prior to her arrest.  I may be mistaken in this information however as it appeared rather confusing in how it was described. 

Then, in 2008 she was talking with a friend who was also a mother who had lost custody of her child and was reportedly discussing having both of their children's father's killed.  The friend contacted police saying she wanted no part of this and thought Caren was very serious in this endeavor.  The police asked for the friend to help in setting up a sting in which an undercover officer would pose as a "hit man" and meet with Caren.  The sting was set up and was videotaped.  Caren gave the supposed hit man a $2,000 down payment for the hit on a Friday and promised $2,000 more after the deed was done.  She asked that it be carried out by that Sunday.  She wanted both Steve Crosby and his wife killed. She provided the man with pictures of Steven and his wife, as well as a map to their home. Just after the undercover cop left authorities moved in and arrested Caren.  According to Virginia law, when a murder for hire occurs, whether it was successful or not, it becomes capital murder, so Caren was charged with 2 counts of attempted capital murder and 2 counts of solicitation for capital murder.  By March of 2009 she had made a deal with prosecutors.  They agreed to drop the charges of solicitation and she pleaded guilty to the two counts of attempted capital murder.  In July 2009 the judge accepted the plea. He technically sentenced her to 40 years in prison but he then suspended 32 of those, leaving her with 8 years to serve.

Now, as I said in the very beginning I saw this case on a television show and wanted to research more about it.  The problem is that there really seemed to be less available as far as news articles or anything else than the show had portrayed. As I have said many times I do not like to rely solely on those programs as they are often slanted.We live in a world where sensationalism sells and that happens all too often when it comes to the telling of crimes.  However, with that said... the following are things that I can recall from the program(s) that may fill in a few of the blanks.  I do want to stress though where the information came from and I cannot completely ensure it's accuracy.  This is why this case is unique for me.  First, I would like to know if the information that I pertained earlier is purely accurate (not guesses or feelings) and secondly, I am sure there are lots of blanks to fill in.  While the above information does not seem all that "over the top" as we are used to, what I "knew" coming into this story was much more interesting.

As I recall it was stated that when Caren's son was approximately 3 or 4 years old he began asking about his father. Caren had never told Steven about their son and had raised him alone and by most accounts as I recall she was a good mother.  Reports were that she felt bad for her son, who was at that curious age and saw friends with their fathers.  It was at this point in which she approached Steven.  At that time he was dating the woman who would later become his wife.  DNA tests were done (as I recall) to determine for sure that this was in fact his son.  I want to say that Caren did not file for child support as she had no desire or need but that Steven had filed for visitation.  By all accounts it seems that Caren expected to walk up to Steven, let him know he had a son, let the son know he had a father and simply walk away.  To her surprise Steven had taken more action than that and wanted an active role in his son's life.  In my research the news articles would basically say that the court records as far as what happened between the two were sealed and not available.  This could have been very true at the time of her arrest and court proceedings, but then again, not knowing these answers also gave the press a little more to a) speculate on and b) make it seem, without knowing the details, that the courts had ruled in the best interest of her child and had taken him from her and given Steven custody as she was a bad mother. It allows the reader to think the worse of Caren.  Now, this is not to say that, again, if accurate, the situation was good or that Caren was an angel in her behavior but people lose custody of their children for different reasons and it is really only fair to know the reason before making a judgement.  Sometimes someone loses custody just because when two people are fighting for a child someone has to win and someone has to lose.  On the surface it seems a bit odd that a mother who had raised her child for several years without the presence of a father, and at that point had never had any issues it seems, that she would lose not just custody but Steven had received sole custody.  I want to also point out quickly that the strange part of this case is that Steven never filed for custody, or at least that is the information that I received about this case.  As I recall Steven had simply filed for visitation after receiving confirmation that the child was his.  Caren however did not like this and fought it tooth and nail.  Many say that it was more about her having control of her son and the situation than anything and to allow Steven to be a part of her son's life was allowing him some of that control and she was not having it. Over the next months (or years), Caren began to hinder that visitation in whatever way she could.  Some say she just simply did not comply while there were claims that she had filed reports with child protective services claiming that Steven (and/or his wife) were abusing the child.  She took him to the doctor, more than once to have these claims verified.  Apparently child protective services investigated the situation and said there was no basis for these claims. Also, the court appointed attorney for the child disputed this.  So Caren in Steven in were in court again addressing these issues when I recall the judge simply handed custody to Steven.  Again, he had not filed and by all accounts just seemed to be a father who wanted to be involved in his child's life. Caren's lawyer of course disputed that the judge even had the right to make such a move and that became a court issue in and of itself.  Not only however had the judge surprisingly simply given sole custody to Steven he had also ordered Caren to pay $33,000 to reimburse the state for the attorney appointed to represent her son. 

Friends and family claim this is when Caren "lost it."  Over the next three years she continued to fight the order but had also started the advocacy group as well as moved on and had re-married.  But, she was consumed with this fight for her son.  Eventually it seems she felt she had done all that she could through the courts and she decided that if Steven and his wife were no longer in the picture the courts would have no choice but to give her her son back.  Delusional?  Yes. Desperate? Yes. Is it something that most mothers in her situation would have let cross their minds?  Honestly?  More than likely.  The difference here is that she took it to another level.  Now, I want to add here that one report that I found in my research stated that she attempted to have four people killed.  I am assuming this came from the videotape with the undercover officer.  Caren had  given the undercover cop the pictures of Steven and his wife and had stated that she wanted them killed and then their house burned (I can only presume that she knew her son would not be in the home). Whether the undercover cop knew Steven and his wife had two young children or he simply knew enough to ask, I do not know. But, in the videotape Caren does tell him that they have two other children and seemed to be very indifferent not only that they would lose their parents but if they were hurt in any way.  Truthfully I am surprised that my research did not find more on this area seeing as this is part of the sensationalism that newspapers and television shows thrive on. 

To be fair I want to also point out before ending that the woman who had contacted the police in the first place has been under fire. As I stated above she was also a mother who had lost custody of her child to the father, that she claimed was abusive. She too apparently had been fighting this and had blamed the courts for their ruling.  She had also allowed the sting to take place at her home.  There are reports that she may not be as she seems.  To that I cannot say.  What I can say is that I have seen, and heard, of case after case of people going to extremes when it comes to child custody cases.  I have seen time and time again where someone claims abuse and when it cannot be proven they "stage" situations and then those situations are found out and instead of giving credence to their claims as they had hoped they make it appear (whether they had or not) they had fabricated it all.  When it comes to this case it seems that Caren was the only one claiming that Steven was abusive to her child, or to anyone for that matter.  As I recall it was believed that the child was coached by his mother (which I personally have seen the results of) in the situations in which he claimed possible abuse but that for the most part he did not substantiate her claims. This alone is a form of abuse to the child from the mother, if in fact true.  Should she have had her child removed?  I cannot answer that. What I can say is that by most accounts I do not see that there was really any warning that this could happen.  I do not advocate any parent who would do this to their child, or the other parent, if in fact they are simply trying to be a good parent, but sometimes people just need a scare. And maybe if the judge would have indicated that this was something that he/she was even considering things would have changed.  Then again, she may have had a "Yeah, right" attitude and continued the behavior. But at least she would have been warned which is something I did not see here.  

I would love to hear from people who know more about this case.

Comments

  1. She got off too easy! She not only wanted to kill the father of her child, but his wife also. Then she made the comment that he, the hired killer, should burn the house down with the guys other children in the house. That's a sign this woman will have nothing to lose, when she gets out of prison, and might try again.

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  2. I'm curious too... why she lost custody of the boy is the 30,000 white elephant in the room... it would explain a great deal...

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    1. My understanding is she began accusing the father of child abuse and appeared to be coaching the child on stating he was being abused. By doing so that called attention to her where her actions came into question if she was suitable enough to raise the child.

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    2. It is not confirmed that she coached the child. From the story I watched it also doesn't State the child was ever physically examined. I find it reprehensible that this system would potentially place a child Back In Harm's Way because the parent filing the allegation appeared to be an alcoholic. How many children are being abused because the system continues to fail them? My concern is not so much that she hired someone to take this man out but that this man had other children in the home that he could abuse as well. I'm not sure why people keep overlooking the initial allegation which traumatizes so many children who do not have a voice. This is an unfortunate occurrence all the way around.

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    3. Let me first say that I research information on all the cases and do not go solely on one television show as they are all bias in one way or another.

      Secondly, by all accounts the allegations were looked into and were not proven in any way as well as professionals felt the child was coached. This happens a lot but rather than blame the system, blame the parents who continue to throw out false claims which in turn tarnishes the system.

      Thirdly, I am appalled that you stated you are less concerned she hired someone to kill another human being (and children too if they were in the way) than the fact this woman was proven to be not just unfit but making up allegations b

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  3. The court-appointed guardian ad litem reported evidence of heavy drinking and drug use at her home. Dad was given custody and she was given only supervised visitation.

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    1. She was an outstanding citizen never into any trouble .. Wasn't a drunk or drug addict before had own home ..good job etc.. But after they took her son she was caught having a drink .. Let me ask you a question if someone takes your child away from you and you are a good mother single mother raising a child alone for 5 years you would have a beer too because the pain and emptiness from the hole in your heart has to get some relief somehow ..she was a good mother I don't know her but I know this bad mothers would not have fought to get their kid back .. I don't condone or say its right in any way shape or form what she did . but,I say this even animals will attack and defend their own .. You love your family as she loved her son if someone comes to harm one of your children or loved ones you will do whatever it takes to protect and defend ..now I'm sure she has had time to think about it and knows she went about it the wrong way and regrets it.. But at some point you start to see it spinning out of control and started feeling helpless started grasping for anything to get air because its like you're drowning and there is nothing you can do about ...so I'm pretty sure if someone was to try to take your child away you would do what you could to stop it ..why expect less of her ..heck half of you would shoot someone for coming into your house to steal your TV ...SOOOO ...DON'T JUDGE ...ONLY GOD .. CAN JUDGE ...NOW this is for all you mothers or fathers that have had their child taken ..can't see them ..etc.. When your child reaches age they will come find you .. And I know it hurts but hold onto that thought everyday

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    2. That's not judgement~ she was drinking, hosting wild parties and doing drugs. This was established BEFORE her child was taken. And she also told the f@faux killer to get rid of the other two children when he asked "What about them? "... Evil is as evil does... Such vehemence is totally uncalled for...

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  6. I have been in a custody battle where after 5 years from the day this child was born when his mom a drug addict that can be proven the judge gave custody to her in Richmond Virginia he didnt even know her ..torn his little heart out and mine screaming and being pulled from me ...a guardian was also in the case ..the judges and guardian litem should all be investigated

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    1. YES THEY SHOULD ...They come in to a situation where a child has been all of his little 5 years the only person he knows and a good mother and home and have to pull this child screaming and kicking I want my mom and please don't let them take me I want to stay with you as if I didn't want him ..Its completely the most helpless heartbreaking moment ..its like a hole has been ripped in your heart..this is happening everywhere it happened to me when he was 5 ..he is 17 now ..not even 2 weeks had passed after the judge and so called guardian in Virginia Ms.Newman had turned custody over that the father was arrested for shooting at people at a party (but I'm sure she knows best)put the child in a dangerous home..he was then put into someone else's custody ... My point is this the court system does not look for the best interest of the child at all and they have no idea how this affects the children ..he is 17 now I see him from time to time we still have a bond.. the court didn't take that away and couldn't.. I understand not condone but I do understand how when you take a child from the love of the mother you rip out her heart and soul ..and like a mother lion you take her cub well she will attack and even kill by all means possible to get her cub back .. But it doesn't make her crazy or unstable just protective of her cub .. So why does society expect any less .. Not saying to kill or anything of that nature.. just we don't want our kids taken and we will do everything in our power to protect them .. Now some of you might say well we are not animals ...lions,bears etc.. This is true .. But we are mothers and you wouldn't walk up and take a cub from its mother and expect no reaction and then say I can't believe she acted like that ..she's got issues ..gone crazy ..downward spiral as I read one article from another mother who went to extremes here in Virginia .. What really did you expect go ahead take my child and I will do nothing especially after she has exhausted all her means .. Let me ask the guardian or judges or attorney's if someone came into your home to take away your child or to harm your loved ones are you gonna stand there do nothing or fight and go a little crazy maybe .. The worst part is that when these kids grow up they become very distant ..secluded. Depressed..anxious waiting for bad things to happen to them not feeling loved or wanted by their mothers because they didn't fight hard enough or long enough to get them back ..because they don't understand how the court systems are ... And honestly neither do I..

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    2. Was Caren released from prison? She was eligible in 2016

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    3. No,she wasn't released. The Parole Board gave her a five year deferment...

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    4. That deferment was for another caren brown.The woman in that article had kiĺled a man in 1986

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    5. She has been released

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    6. Caren is a very kind and loving soul, who lost all reason and sanity to care when she lost her son.. Yes I know her , have lived near her and she wud give the shirt off her back to anyone..people can judge all they want but unless u walk in someone elses shoes, then u dont know how she felt or what she went through to push her to the edge... IMAGINE THIS : If you were a single parent and all u had was just that 1 child who made ur days worth waking up from and all u wanted was their happiness, wud losing that child and u being alone to sit and wonder what they were doing, how they were, if they were sick etc. ..if u had to feel that way everyday you might not care either...
      NOW I dont condone this behavior or her idea of having anyone hurt at all...I'm just trying to get u to see how she might have felt..becuz how many times do ANY of you see a child on tv thats been hurt or missing, etc. and say " If that was my child, and someone done that to them, ........"
      As parents we have all done that...but to her they took the only thing she had...her son...
      I know a thousand times Caren wishes she had never told Steven about their son...he wud never have known and none of this wud have ever happened, but she just wanted her son happy...thats what a good Mother wud do !!!!!!!!!! So plz think before condemn her she is a great lady who just cudnt cope the way some can..

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  7. I feel so sorry for this mother. I would have killed the sob too!!!!!! The courts and social services are just as guilty!!! I am watching this episode on tv right now, it is so upsetting this little boy was ripped from his loving mothers arms...shame on the court and anyone else for separating this mother and child!!!

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    1. Would you have also been willing to murder the two other children~as she instructed the hit man to do? I don't think so...

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    2. She was not in her right mind at that point.

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  8. Does anyone know if she ever got out of jail?

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  9. The child had a father and a mother. Mother's aren't any more important in the lives of children as fathers. Hard to fault the father for not being there in the beginning since he was not even aware of the child. This woman had absolutely no more right to the child as the father. Had she been a good mother she would have put the interests of her son over her own anger, hatred, control issues and ego. Glad no one was murdered due to this woman's choices. She accepted her unishment. Hope she learned from it.

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    1. It was a one night stand and the guy was not interested..Why did he insist on more visits when he could see that's what she really wanted. Sad if the boy does not want to see his mother who didn't not abort or abandon him those first years..Sad

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    2. SHE the father into the picture when the boy kept asking about his father, after being warnedby a legal professional that there was no turning back once she involved him. So he did the right thing by meeting with the boy, and the boy wanted a relationship with him. He did everything a good man would do, and what he got in return was false accusations and a murder plot against him.

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  10. Can anyone find out if she has spoken to her son

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  11. Wow, there ate some incredibly stupid comments here. There was NO proof that the boy's father had done anything wrong. NONE. This unbalanced woman ended up exactly where she belongs.

    And if they had ever lived together, I guarantee you that she would have falsely accused him of abusing her too, as killer wives and girlfriends often do.

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  12. Although I don't condone what Caren did but I understand. I've been in a 15 year custody battle with my son's father and he finally won. I am a good mother with no criminal record, no drinking, no drugs or drug abuse, no wild parties, no traffic in and out of my home, no child abuse, no neglect, etc. and the courts in this Commomwealth State decided that my son is better off living with his dad whom has PTSD and has a history of abuse in his home 2014 & 2015 along with my son's stepmom whom was convicted of abusing my son when he was 5 years old. How screwed up is that??????? I have fought and fought in court and I am still fighting and my son's father is still trying to push me out of my son's life my manipulating him and bullying him. I want to take this to the newspaper to bring awareness to us good mothers. I am wondering if there are anymore women out there such as myself that only have legal custody but not primary custody of there child/ren???? Or if you know anyone that has lost primary custody of their child/ren leave me a message here so we can connect.

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    1. I had the same issues with my son in 1994. It was a 5 year battle!!! That is bullcrap! I feel so sad for mothers who have to endure this torture!!!! I wish you all the best. I can break you. You have to be so strong. Its not fair, its not right.

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  13. What the guardian et litem and the courts did to this mother, piss me off. I would have killed the SOB too. Guardian et litems are nothing but controlling bitches with issues issues themselves. There was no reason the son was taken away from his mother. I am watching the show now on tv. My heart breaks for Caren. The wife to the sons dad should have encouraged her husband to not take custody. But i am sure all they could think about was the child support money they would save, any father who truely loves their child would not rip them from a good mother. Children need their loving mothers. I have zero respect for men who try to take children away from their mothers. I am talking good mothers, so don't come back at me with your bullcrap words.

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