Crime & Public Safety

Suspect in Bluffton teen’s death left hospital after interview with police

Leonard Brown Jr.
Leonard Brown Jr. Beaufort County Detention Center

The man wanted on a felony DUI charge in connection with the death Saturday of a Bluffton teenager checked himself out of the hospital after police interviewed him and before they charged him.

The Bluffton Police Department announced Tuesday that Leonard Brown Jr., 27, is wanted on the DUI charge in addition to driving under a suspended license after the vehicle he drove crashed early Saturday morning. Christine Barrett, his 18-year-old passenger, was killed.

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The crash was reported around 2:45 a.m. on the Bluffton Parkway near Hampton Lake. Barrett was pronounced dead at the scene, and Brown was outside of the vehicle and taken to the hospital, according to a police department news release.

After Brown was taken to the hospital, charges were not filed immediately because the department was in the early stages of the investigation, spokesperson Joy Nelson said Wednesday.

“After he was questioned and we left, that’s when he checked himself out of the hospital,” she said on Wednesday. “If we had charges against him at the time of the questioning, yes, protocol states to have an officer stay at the hospital.”

The charges were not filed against Brown until warrants were issued on Sunday, Nelson said.

Anyone with information on Brown’s whereabouts may call Detective Odom at 843-706-4560.

Anonymous information can also be shared by calling 843-706-4560.

Family members of Christine Barrett, the 18-year-old Bluffton native killed early Saturday in a single-vehicle crash on Bluffton Parkway, had not heard, as of Tuesday afternoon, from the driver in the wreck. They know the driver's identity, they s

Tabitha Johnson, Christine Barrett's older sister, has been coming to the site of Barrett's informal memorial on Bluffton Parkway "six, seven times a day" since the 18-year-old Bluffton resident lost her life in a car accident in the early morning

Caitlin Turner: 843-706-8184, @Cait_E_Turner