Former friends and lovers said she repeated lie after lie, spinning tales of pregnancies and terminal cancer.
Men continued to fall for it. Dawn Brown's third ex-husband said these lies and deceit were common threads in their brief marriage. Brown is the Cleveland woman at the center of a police investigation into her alleged fake pregnancy and cancer scam.
Brown, whose maiden name is Vandevelde, is accused of peddling the scam, which garnered donations and support from people who were convinced she was pregnant and had terminal breast cancer. Police sources said it appears that she did not have cancer, nor was she pregnant. Her husband, retired Cleveland police officer Ken Brown, is also the subject of an internal investigation. However, police sources said it remains unclear what his involvement in the scam was.
According to court records, Dawn divorced her most recent ex-husband in October 2017. Court records show that Dawn was not pregnant at the time. On the date her divorce was finalized in Stark County – November 14th, 2017 – court records show Dawn married Ken Brown in Lorain County.
Numerous social media and blog posts show Dawn had told people she was expecting to give birth to a girl in mid-December. That date was later pushed back to late January.
The apparent lies surrounding Dawn’s seventh marriage resemble those that plagued her third.
In an off-camera interview on Friday evening, Jared Hoeh, her third husband, said he met Dawn in 2001 through a singles chat line. Having just moved to the Cleveland area, he was immediately smitten. Their phone conversations quickly turned into a relationship. After dating for the months of January and February, Hoeh said Dawn told him she was pregnant with triplets.
Then came the bigger shock: she had terminal leukemia too.
These two announcements sparked a whirlwind engagement and marriage.
“I came from a split home,” Hoeh said. “I wanted to do the right thing.”
Hoeh said he wanted to avoid having the children wrapped up in legal limbo. On May 3rd, 2001, the two wed. Little did Hoeh know at the time, Dawn was married to another man, Matthew Baon, during their entire courtship. According to court records, Dawn’s marriage with Baon wasn’t dissolved until May 2nd.
In all but two of Dawn’s seven marriages, court records state one marriage would end on the same date, or within a couple of days of another marriage ending. Only once did Dawn spend more than a month between marriages, according to court records.
Not long into his marriage with Dawn, Hoeh said he became suspicious.
“I became suspicious of everything even before we got married. There were inconsistencies in her story,” Hoeh said. “I didn’t have any proof until after we were married.”
The proof came when Dawn reportedly gave Hoeh fake sonogram pictures, similar to those anyone can buy on gag gift websites like FakeABaby.com. Hoeh said he showed the sonogram photos to his mother, who is a nurse. His mom said the photos seemed to show a baby that was too far along to be his.
“She covered her tracks extremely well,” Hoeh said.
Hoeh said he would often take off of work so he could attend her medical appointments. However, as each appointment drew near, Dawn would tell him the appointment was rescheduled or she went to the appointment before or during work, Hoeh said. Fed up and suspicious, Hoeh said he began calling the hospital to verify the appointments. Once he found out the pregnancy was a sham, he packed his bags and moved out in June 2001 – two months after they married.
After he moved out, Hoeh said he began receiving calls from adoption agencies interested in adopting his child. At that point, Hoeh called Dawn who told him she had suffered a miscarriage.
Hoeh had recorded the conversation. A few days later, he filed for an annulment.
“She didn’t take the news of the [annulment] very well,” Hoeh said. “There were times where I was afraid of what might happen if I fell asleep.”
The annulment was finalized on December 10th, 2001, according to court records. At their final hearing, Hoeh said she had another man with her at the hearing, and she was wearing a different engagement ring.
He hasn’t spoken to her since. In the back of his mind, however, Hoeh said there was always a worry of what might happen.
“There [have] been so many times I’ve heard about pregnant women being kidnapped,” Hoeh said. “Every time, I thought it might be [Dawn].”
According to news reports dating back to December 2001, Fairview Hospital was put on alert because there was concern that Dawn might try to abduct an infant. Dawn had reportedly been part of a support group for women expecting multiple children.
Last week, Fairview Hospital again was put on alert because of concerns that Dawn might try to abduct an infant. A flier was posted at the hospital, saying Brown was running a fake pregnancy scam that had been publicly exposed. The flier said Dawn had scouted the hospital in the past and was familiar with the medical center’s procedures.
Dawn Brown has not responded to requests for comment, and neither has her attorney.