FOUND beaten and stabbed to death in an East Lothian field 18 years ago, Steven Brown’s death prompted a major manhunt.
Yet despite multiple reports of a street fight the night before his body was found, the death remains a mystery.
Police re-interviewed key witnesses, spoke to residents and revisited key sites in 2013 but still drew a blank amid a suspected cloak of secrecy.
Even a Crimestoppers reward of £5,000 failed to loosen mouths as the case became mired in allegations of threats and witness intimidation. But detectives are understood to have collected “forensic evidence” dating back to 1999 – lending hope that justice will, eventually, be delivered for the father-of-three.
The body of 35-year-old Steven was found on waste ground near Elphinstone in Tranent on February 21, 1999.
Witnesses later reported a fracas in Kerr Road at about midnight on the night before his body was discovered.
A large group of men and women are thought to have been involved, during which detectives believed Steven was attacked.
Launching the fresh appeal in 2013, officers hoped personal circumstances and loyalties may have changed in the intervening years, prompting more witnesses to come forward.
Meanwhile, Steven’s brothers, Colin, William and Kenneth, released a family statement in the hope someone would offer key information.
“Steven’s murder affected the lives of a lot of innocent people, not least his family,” read the statement.
“Steven had three daughters, three brothers, a sister, and a mother and a father, and we all deserve to see justice done. It has been a difficult time for the family, knowing that there are those in the local community who know what happened to Steven that night.
“It would be a great comfort to us to see the culprits finally convicted, and give our family the closure we so desperately need.
“We are appealing to people in Tranent who have information regarding Steven’s murder to contact the police and help us achieve justice.”
Steven’s former partner, Wilma Brown, who had a daughter with him, was quoted at the time: “I have been trying for years to get justice for him.
“Steven never had the opportunity to get to know his daughter.
“We would ask people to come forward and tell the truth now, and help us put his memory to rest.”
A trio of men were charged with the murder three days after his body was found but were later released with a lack of evidence.
Detective Inspector Gary Boyd’s words in re-appealing for witnesses in 2013 are as relevant today as then.
“We firmly believe that the key to solving his murder lies in the local community,” said DI Boyd. “We are appealing directly to anyone with information to come forward and help Steven’s family put his memory to rest.
“We understand that people may have previously been reluctant to approach police with any information they had at the time of his murder.
“However, as time has passed people’s personal circumstances and loyalties may have changed, and they may now be willing to share any information. We believe that with the community’s help we can finally bring those responsible for Steven’s death to justice.”