Man Who Helped Heidnik Is Set Free Judge Cautions Him To Be Careful Choosing His Associates

Posted: July 16, 1988

He thought Gary Michael Heidnik was his friend.

"But what a weird friend," reflected Cyril "Tony" Brown, who was accused of being Heidnik's horror house helper. "He was a nut."

The nut is on death row.

And Brown, the mildly retarded man who for the last 16 months had lived under a cloud of murder, rape, kidnapping and conspiracy charges, is free.

Yesterday, at the prosecution's request, the charges against Brown were dropped by Common Pleas Judge Charles L. Durham.

"Mr. Brown, you're a very lucky person," said the judge as Brown nodded meekly. "Because you know what happened to the alleged co-defendant."

"From now on," warned the judge, "you be very careful of the people you associate with."

Brown, 32, had told homicide detectives that he helped Heidnik drag the corpse of one of his victims out of the cellar. He said he watched Heidnik butcher the body with a power saw and cook the head in a stew pot.

But Deputy District Attorney Charles F. Gallagher told the judge there was ''insufficient evidence" to bring Brown to trial.

"All we had was an uncorroborated statement that was found to be riddled with inaccuracies," said Gallagher later. "I think he basically, to a certain extent, was also a victim of Heidnik."

Brown also was a victim of his own words and fear of the police, he said after the brief court hearing.

"It shouldn't have happened," said Brown, a shy, soft-spoken man, who wore a rumpled blue-striped sport coat to court yesterday."But I opened my big mouth, so I guess I shouldn't complain."

His lawyer, Norris E. Gelman, wouldn't let Brown discuss why he lied to the police. Gelman praised the prosecutor for his interest in "justice and the truth."

Brown's November bride, Gail Lincow, a former Heidnik lover and mother of Gary Heidnik Jr., was beside herself with joy.

"You mean he's not guilty?" she kept asking Gelman. "Wow! We can go anywhere we want! He's not guilty!"

Brown and Lincow had both cooperated with the prosecution against Heidnik, but neither was called as a witness. Heidnik was condemned to die two weeks ago for murdering two of the six women he enslaved, tortured and raped in his basement.

Lincow, who also is retarded, said Heidnik had for a short time held her captive during her pregnancy with Gary Jr. about five years ago. The child is now in a foster home.

The couple said they had a daughter, Erica L. Brown, six months ago. Brown said he wants to become a mechanic.

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