Over thirty years ago, Norine Higuchi Brown left her home to buy ingredients to make Christmas cookies, and she never came home. What happened to the devoted mother on that cold December night in 1990?
Norine Higuchi Brown was a mother, daughter, wife and friend. She was born on December 13, 1958. She grew up on Long Island, having attended Uniondale High School. After she graduated high school, Norine worked at an office before she met and married her husband John Brown. John and Norine had two children and lived in New Hyde Park on Long Island. Norine was looking forward to celebrating the holiday season with her family.
The day Norine disappeared
Norine was making the most of the holiday season on December 12, 1990. On that afternoon, Norine, her children, and her sister, Susan, went shopping for Christmas gifts and made a special stop to visit Santa on the way out of the mall. Susan lived in Franklin Square, where Norine dropped her off before returning to her home in New Hyde Park. Around 11:00 PM that night, Norine left home to buy ingredients for Christmas cookies. She never came back.
The day after Norine disappeared
December 13, 1990, should've been a joyous day for Norine and her family; it was her thirty-second birthday. Norine’s friend, Elaine Comando received a phone call from Norine's husband, John Brown, asking if Norine had spent the night at her home. According to John Brown, he and Norine had a little argument before she left for the ingredients, and he figured Norine may have spent the night at her house. He fell asleep on the couch and didn't realize she never came home.
John Brown asked Comando to go to the Pathmark that Norine was supposed to go shopping last night. The Pathmark was located on Jericho Hwy in Garden City Park, Long Island, approximately one mile from the Brown home. When Comando arrived at the supermarket, her stomach filled with dread when she saw Norine's car parked there, locked and loaded with wrapped Christmas gifts. Norine had $45 in her pocketbook which was discovered inside her car, but left her wallet and identification at home. After Comando found her vehicle in the parking lot, John Brown called the police and filed a missing person report.
Where Norine's case stands today
John Brown was a fireman, and during the first week of Norine's disappearance, fellow firefighters joined the search for Norine. No one is sure if Norine entered the Pathmark that night, as no one recalls seeing her. One employee remembers her car being there a little after 11:00 PM but doesn't remember seeing Norine herself. Although 11:00 PM seems like an odd time for someone to go grocery shopping, it was typical for Norine, who preferred to go when there were no crowds.
In an interview with News 12 Long Island, John Brown said he thinks Norine was murdered. He also stated a witness said there was an argument in the Pathmark parking lot that night. It is unclear whether or not there is a report about a fight in the parking lot on the night of December 12, 1990.
According to Comando, Norine and John Brown had a tumultuous relationship, and she thinks John Brown may be responsible for her friend's disappearance. John Brown is now remarried and has never been named a suspect in his former wife's disappearance. In May 1994, Norine's parents sued John Brown for visitation rights for her grandchildren.
The court ruled in favor of John Brown because Norine's mother had stated numerous times that she believes John Brown is responsible for her daughter's disappearance, and they think she may convey those thoughts to the children. Evaluators recommended supervised visitation to ensure their grandmother's ideas would not sway the children's opinion of their father.
At a reunion in 2017, Norine's friends, including Comando, banned together to get Norine's case off the cold case shelf. Now, they are working with the Nassau Police Department to help keep Norine's name in the public eye. Any information about the disappearance of Norine Higuchi Brown should be called to the Nassau County Police Department at (516) 573-8800 or email tips to FindNorine@gmail.com.