Isaiah C. Brown came into the world early, a 4-pound, 4-ounce baby boy barely able to breathe. His father, Ralph, kept a vigil those tenuous first few days until the child's will to live conquered the danger around him.
Five months later, Ralph C. Brown Jr. would bid his baby goodbye, after what authorities believe was a tragic mistake that resulted in the child being left in a parked car for several hours on a hot day.
As Frederick County authorities continued to investigate the baby's death, Brown and his wife, Denise, mourned yesterday in a funeral ceremony at the First Missionary Baptist Church in Frederick. The large, plain church, with white walls and unadorned pews, was packed with more than 200 people who had come to support the Browns. The couple remained silent, though their faces were marked with crushing grief.
The county state's attorney, Scott Rolle, said in an interview yesterday that he had spoken to detectives who had interviewed Ralph Brown -- a member of Frederick County's social services advisory board and son-in-law of Alderman William Hall -- and pieced together the likely story of what happened.
Rolle said that on Thursdays, Ralph Brown was responsible for taking Isaiah to day care and one of their older sons to elementary school, then working from his home in Spring Ridge, north of Frederick. Normally, he would drop off Isaiah first, then the other boy, but they were running behind schedule. He dropped off the older boy, then returned home, apparently forgetting that the baby was still in the back seat of his Buick.
The temperature was 85 degrees outside. By the time Ralph Brown realized his mistake, the baby had been in the car for several hours, and the temperature inside the car was 125 degrees. Brown called 911 at 2:29 p.m., Rolle said. But the baby was in cardiac arrest. Isaiah was pronounced dead at Frederick Memorial Hospital a short time later. His body temperature was 108 degrees, Rolle said.
No charges have been filed in the case. Rolle said that he had not decided "how or if we should get involved" and that he was waiting for the results of a medical examination, which he said could take up to six weeks.
"There are still some unanswered questions," he said. "Until I'm comfortable knowing everything that happened, I just don't want to tilt it one way or another. It's not an easy decision, and it's not an easy case, by any stretch.
"It's horrible," Rolle added. "I can't imagine this family's pain, and certainly our hearts go out to them."
The Browns asked Anne Whisonant, a friend, to speak for the family at the funeral. "We would like you to know who Isaiah was," Whisonant told the mourners. "He would chuckle if you played with him, and he loved to look up into the sky. . . . It is unbelievable how someone so small could touch so many hearts."
She said that Isaiah's three brothers were among his biggest fans -- his brother Malcolm would often talk to the baby through his mother's belly, and, after he was born, "his face just lit up with unimaginable joy."
In closing, Whisonant read the words of the baby's parents: "To our precious Isaiah, you were loved long before you came into the Earth. . . . You were created so that we would learn of unconditional love. You made us all better and more loving people."
Several ministers read passages from the Bible, including the verse in which Jesus says: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
The baby was carried out of the church in a small ivory coffin as the congregation sang a hymn and was taken to the Garden of Devotion at Resthaven Memorial Gardens, north of Frederick.
There, the family members, sitting on chairs before the coffin, took one another's hands as a priest read a few words. Finally, the family rose, laid flowers on the casket and slowly walked away.