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Four Found Slain In House; Son Arrested

February 19, 1988

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) _ Authorities today arrested a 16-year-old boy in the ax murders of his parents, a brother and a sister, and prosecutors said they would seek to try him as an adult on murder charges.

″The boy has been captured and they are interviewing him now,″ said a police dispatcher who refused to give his name. The boy, who had dyed his hair black and partially shaved his head before the bodies were found, was taken into custody at the main Rochester Post Office, he said.

Olmsted County Attorney Raymond Schmitz said at a news conference that ″our intent is to file a petition charging him with four counts of first- degree murder. Then we’ll petition to try him as an adult.″

″The officers who took him into custody said he was quite nervous and frightened,″ Officer Bill Verdick said.

Olmsted County Sheriff Charles Von Wald said someone had called the sheriff’s office saying he saw someone fitting the boy’s description in a phone booth near the post office. He said at the news conference that David Brom was arrested near vending machines inside the post office and did not resist.

The bodies of Bernard Brom, 41, his wife, Paullette, about 40, and children Diane, 14, and Rick, 9, were found in their nightclothes Thursday evening at their home in suburban Cascade Township, said Von Wald.

The four were believed to have been slain early Thursday morning, the sheriff said. A bloody ax 2 to 3 feet long was found in the basement of the home in a quiet, well-to-do area just outside this southeastern Minnesota city of 60,000, he said.

Law enforcement officials talked with friends of the 16-year-old who had spoken with him Thursday, the sheriff said.

″He indicated he was having some trouble with his parents,″ Von Wald said. ″One student said he was having trouble with his dad because of a tape he had bought and he didn’t want him listening to it.″

The boy was at Lourdes High School on Thursday morning. Friends at the Roman Catholic school said he had dyed his hair black, shaved the sides of his head and spiked the hair on the back of his head, the sheriff said.

The boy also bought a wig and makeup, Von Wald said.

The family van had been missing but was found late Thursday near Methodist Hospital in Rochester, Von Wald said. A car and another car’s license plates were reported stolen from the vicinity of the school, he said.

The family’s priest, the Rev. Syl Brown of the Pax Christi Roman Catholic Church, said Bernard Brom worked in a supervisory position for IBM in Rochester and Paullette Brom was a homemaker.

″There are no explanations to strange things, mysteries like this,″ Brown said. ″It’s an exemplary family. They were very active in every phase of the parish. There’s no indication there was any difficulty in the family.″

The priest said the 16-year-old attended church with his family every week.

Von Wald said frends and neighbors described the boy as ″a nice young man″ who was a very good student.

″He baby-sat for one of the neighbors, and recently had shoveled the sidewalk for another neighbor,″ the sheriff said.

Bernard and Rick Brom’s bodies were found in their upstairs bedrooms, and Paullette and Diane Brom’s bodies in an upstairs hallway, the sheriff said.

″We believe the father and son were probably surprised and didn’t have a chance to defend themselves,″ Von Wald said. ″We believe the mother and daughter were going to investigate and were confronted.″

Von Wald said the sheriff’s department received a call at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday from an unidentified school official about a possible problem at the house.

The sheriff said authorities have talked with another son, Joseph, 19, ″and are satisfied he was not involved.″

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