New Hyde Park, NY

32 years ago, the fire chief said his wife went on a late-night shopping trip. The mom of two hasn't been seen since.

Fatim Hemraj

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Norine Higuchi BrownPhoto byMedium

Norine Higuchi Brown lived in New Hyde Park, New York with her husband, John, and their two children; 18-month-old Anthony and 5-month-old, Alexa. She was a doting stay-at-home mom who loved gymnastics and swimming. John was a firefighter and a little league coach.

The family of four lived above a plumbing store that John owned, while they waited for renovations on their new house to be completed. The Browns appeared to be a warm, all-American family but before Norine went missing, she told loved ones what really went on behind closed doors.

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The Browns lived above this plumbing store at 1310 Jericho Turnpike which John ownedPhoto byMedium

Norine confided in friends about her marriage. She wanted a divorce but John refused. He told Norine he would never let her leave and take the children with her. She filed a D/V report against him in October 1990 and it was just two months later that Norine went to the store and never came back.

On December 13, 1990, Norine’s 32nd birthday, John made a bizarre call to Norine’s best friend, Elaine. John told Elaine that Norine left their home at 11 pm the night before for a late-night shopping trip because she wanted to make Christmas cookies. According to John, Elaine never came home.

John admitted to arguing with Norine before she left. Since Elaine lived next to the grocery store, John asked her to check the parking lot for Norine’s car and sure enough, it was there.

The vehicle was empty and unlocked. The backseat was full of wrapped Christmas gifts but Norine was nowhere to be found. She was never seen or heard from again.

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Norine’s car was found in this parking lot of 2305 Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde ParkPhoto byMedium

A grocery store employee said he saw Norine’s station wagon in the parking lot shortly after 11 pm, but he never saw Norine herself. Searches were held all over New Hyde Park, to no avail. John’s colleagues aided the search but he refused to participate, claiming it was just too painful.

Instead, John hired an attorney and fought for custody. He cut off all contact between the children and Norine’s side of the family. Norine’s sister went from seeing them daily to never seeing them at all. Their mother passed away in 2005 without ever knowing what happened to Norine.

John took the children and moved into the new house without Norine. Shortly afterward, a well in the backyard of his plumbing store was filled in with cement. John refused to let the authorities search either property and unfortunately, they lacked sufficient evidence to obtain a search warrant.

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John and Norine were planning to move into this house at 1629 Falmouth Ave — he took the children and moved in without herPhoto byMedium

John never put up flyers or spoke with the media regarding Norine. He did, however, have time to participate in an interview about his plumbing store in 1993. He sold the store shortly after.

To this day, the property, including the well, has not been searched.

John re-married and had two more children. He was a firefighter for more than 35 years. He was replaced as commissioner of the department in 2013. 8 months later, a fire destroyed two rooms on the second floor of his house — the same one John refused to let the authorities search in the 90s.

John continues to maintain his innocence.

Norine was last seen wearing red pants, a dark wool coat, and white sneakers. She was 5'4" and 120 lbs. Today, she would be 63 years old. If you have any information, contact NCPD at 516-573-8800.

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