October 3, 1971) killed his parents, brother and sister with an
axe when he was sixteen in February 1988 in Rochester,
A member of a Catholic family, he had a fight with
his father over the songs he listened to, which possibly
resulted in the deed.
In 1989 Brom
was sentenced to life in prison. He will not be eligible for
parole until 2041.
1987 album, Escape From Noise, proved to be more
successful than they expected, Negativland, a sound collage
band, canceled the tour they were expected to do and released a
fake press release stating the band would be placed in house
arrest until investigations concluded as to whether
"Christianity Is Stupid" (a song from the aforementioned album
featuring Rev. Estus Pirkle's sermon in If Footmen Tire You,
What Will Horses Do? mercilessly edited to make him repeat
"Christianity is stupid! Communism is good!") was implicated in
media craze, stemming from journalists forgetting to fact-check,
is lampooned in the title track of their 1989 album, Helter
Stupid, whose insert also includes background information
behind the band's prank.
"David Brom Took an Axe," from their 1989 album, Gloom,
is about the murders.
Boy, 16, Charged in Ax
Murders Of 4 in His Family in Minnesota
The New York Times
February 20, 1988
The authorities today arrested David Brom, 16 years old, in the ax
murders of his parents, a brother and a sister. Prosecutors said
they would seek to try him as an adult on murder charges.
The bodies of Bernard Brom, 41 years old; his
wife, Paulette, about 40, and the children, Diane, 14, and Rick,
9, were found in their nightclothes Thursday evening at the
family's home in suburban Cascade Township, said Sheriff Charles
Von Wald of Olmsted County.
The four were believed to have been slain early
Thursday morning, the sheriff said. He 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.
David Brom was taken into custody at the main
Rochester Post Office, a police dispatcher said. Sheriff Von Wald
said a person had called his office to report seeing someone
fitting the boy's description in a telephone booth near the post
Officer Bill Verdick said, ''The officers who
took him into custody said he was quite nervous and frightened.''
Boy Is Calm at Arraignment
However, the teen-ager appeared calm at a
15-minute arraignment in which he was charged with four counts of
first-degree murder and eight counts of second-degree murder. The
charges contain different degrees of premeditation or intent. He
did not enter a plea.
Raymong Schmitz, the Olmsted County Attorney,
said the boy was ordered to undergo psychiatric examinaton and was
being held under a 24-hour watch at the county jail.
Sheriff Von Wald said officers had talked with
friends of the suspect, who had spoken with him Thursday. ''He
indicated he was having some trouble with his parents,'' Sheriff
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.''
David was at Lourdes Roman Catholic High School
Thursday morning. Friends at the school said he had dyed his hair
black, shaved the hair from the sides of his head and spiked the
hair on the back of his head, the sheriff said.
According to the charges, David told a friend
on Wednesday that he was going to kill his parents that night, and
another person indicated that he told her on Thursday that he had
killed his parents.
A rumor about the killings finally reached
teachers at David's school, and they notified authorities Thursday.
Life Term in Family Ax
The New York
October 18, 1989
has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his parents,
brother and sister with an ax at the family's rural home here a
year and a half ago. The punishment was imposed Monday on David
Brom, now 18 years old, by Judge Ancy Morse of Olmsted County
District Court, who said the case was an ''extreme and monumental
tragedy'' caused by a ''pathetically sick, depressed mind.'' Mr.
Brom, who had pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness, will
not be eligible for parole for 52 1/2 years.
On October 3, 1989, a Rochester,
David Brom an unwelcome 18th birthday
present: it convicted him of four counts of first-degree murder. A
week later, the same jury rejected
Brom’s claim that he was insane when he used
a 56 blows with an axe to murder his father, mother, and two
He was subsequently sentenced to three
consecutive life terms (and one concurrent life term) and will be
eligible for parole when he turns 70. After his sentencing, the
judge reportedly retired to her chambers and wept over the tragedy
of the crimes and
David’s wasted life.
David’s crime is not that extraordinary.
What is interesting is the dual legal issues that he raised: that
crimes committed by a 16-year-old do not deserve to tried in an
adult court, and that
M’Naghten-based insanity defense is out-of-touch with reality and
unfair to defendants who are mentally ill when they commit their
Medical records and testimony at his
trial indicated that David was severely depressed at the time of
his crime. A Catholic prep school sophomore,
David had twice attempted suicide (the last
attempt was just a few months prior to the murders), and friends
reported that he talked for six months about killing his family.
For reasons never fully explained, that time came on February 18,
1988. In a gruesome crime scene, Cascade Township police who had
been summoned to the home found bodies of Bernard
Brom, 41, his wife, Paullette, about 40, and
children Diane, 14, and Rick, 9, all in their nightclothes. The
four were believed to have been slaughtered early that morning. A
bloody axe was found in the basement of the home. Authorities
theorized that Bernard and Rick had been attacked first, and the
women coming to investigate were subsequently struck down.
The only member of the household not killed — there was another
brother who did not live at home — was
Brom and he was nowhere to be found.
The elder brother had an alibi, and
David’s palm prints were lifted from the
David was arrested the next day while
telephoning a friend from a pay phone at a post office. He
admitted the crimes and explained that he was “having trouble with
his father” over a music tape.