No signs of the stone or concrete pad remain and only one fence post still stands guard. A two-foot-tall citrus tree with worm-eaten leaves now grows where the stone once stood. The tree is surrounded by netting and wire fencing and propped up with a garden trowel. Pink and purple petunias encircle the fence and three five-gallon plastic buckets filled with water sit nearby.
Mike Cichy, owner of the private property where Brown is buried, said he did not know who moved the grave stone but "has some ideas" who took it. Cichy denied moving the stone and said he planted the citrus tree to fill the hole left by the marker. A check of sheriff's files showed Cichy hasn't reported the loss.
Cichy, who said he lives in South San Gabriel, bought the chaparral-covered knoll in January for $46,000 and hopes to build a house there.
Neighbors along nearby Rising Hill Road are dismayed the stone has vanished.
"It's so unfortunate. It just looks terrible," said Ian White, 36, son of prominent African-American artist Charles White who has an Altadena park named after him.
White and his neighbors have pictures showing that the grave stone, concrete and fence disappeared about two weeks ago, he said.
White said he suspects Cichy dismantled the grave to discourage hikers from visiting the site.
Legally, Cichy is within his rights to remove the marker because the grave is not protected by historic designation.
Brown's grave has been a popular destination for more than 100 years. When Owen Brown died in 1889, more than 2,000 people attended his Pasadena funeral and several hundred mourners escorted his body to the grave on Little Roundtop Hill. The permanent granite marker was added in 1898. Rising Hill Road resident John Wiggenhorn set the stone in concrete in 1972 after vandals repeatedly rolled it down the hill.
Local hikers have complained about Cichy blocking public use of several trails to the grave and have considered filing a prescriptive easement lawsuit to force access. They've also called sheriff's deputies and county code enforcement officers about Cichy's campsite.
Cichy's run-ins with sheriff's deputies began when he first started camping out near the grave in late April, sleeping beneath a blue tarp. Cichy had open campfires, but a visit from deputies stopped the practice.
The law enforcement visits left Cichy feeling harassed, he said in a May interview.
Cichy said Tuesday he's not even sure Owen Brown's body is still buried on his property.
Previous owner Gene Vargo, now deceased, wanted to move the grave to build a house on the knoll, but his efforts were opposed by Altadena Heritage and the Altadena Historical Society. Both groups applied for landmark status for the grave but were denied. Cichy refers to Vargo's efforts to move the grave when he questions whether Brown's body remains.
The Altadena Foothills Conservancy wanted to purchase and preserve the 5.5-acre site but couldn't raise the money, said Astrid Ellersieck, a conservancy member.
-- Becky Oskin can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4451, or by e-mail at becky.oskinsgvn.com.