October 3, 1971 |
Cascade Township, Minnesota, USA
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
In the early evening of February 18, 1988, Olmsted County sheriff's deputies discovered the bodies of Bernard (43), Paulette (42), Diane (13), and Richard Brom (11) in the Brom family home. Missing from the home were the two oldest sons, David (16) and Joe (18). The police had been notified by the administration of David's school that students had reported hearing a "rumor" going through the school that David had informed another student that he had killed his family that morning. All four individuals had sustained numerous gashes in the head and upper body. Police subsequently found a blood-stained axe in the basement that forensic tests indicated was used to kill all four victims. Immediately after the discovery, the police were concerned that David may be the victim of an abduction. A friend of David Brom informed the police that David himself had informed her that he had killed his family and testified to the discussion in the subsequent trial. She told jurors at the trial that Brom stopped her the morning of Feb. 18, 1988 as she was going to school and convinced her to skip school with him. He then detailed how he killed his parents, brother and sister. "He said he hit his dad with an axe, he kept hitting his dad and his dad kept on getting up. The girl said Brom told her he had gotten into an argument with his dad about 11:30 p.m. the previous night and that he then stayed up until about 3 a.m. She indicated Brom detailed the crime, saying he went to his parents' room, first killing his father. Then he hit his mother and went to his brother's room.Then he saw his sister standing over their mother in the upstairs hallway at which point he attacked them both.
Brom was captured on February 19, 1988 while using a pay phone near the local post office. His case was initially referred to the juvenile court system given that his age at the time of the crimes was 16, but eventually was sent to the adult judicial system based on the severity of the crime. As Brom's defense claim was insanity, mental illness was a factor in the trial and much media and legal focus was placed on Minnesota's use of the M'Naghten Rules in determining if Brom was legally insane at the time of the crime. On October 16, 1989, Brom was convicted of first degree murder and was given 3 consecutive life sentences. He is currently housed at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater and is eligible for release in 2041.
When their 1987 album, Escape From Noise, proved to be more successful than they expected, Negativland, a sound collage band, were expected to do a national tour. However, their record company, SST, could not provide sufficient funds. The group cancelled the tour and released a fake press release stating the band had been asked not to leave the state until investigations concluded as to whether the track "Christianity Is Stupid" was implicated in Brom's murders. The resulting media craze, stemming from journalists neglecting 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.
In popular culture
- American death metal band Macabre released a song titled "David Brom Took an Axe" on their 1989 album Gloom based on the David Brom murders.
- FindACase | 11/30/90 STATE MINNESOTA v. DAVID FRANCIS BROM
- Friend testifies Brom gave killing details - PostBulletin.com: Home
- Boy, 16, Charged in Ax Murders Of 4 in His Family in Minnesota - New York Times
- M'Naghten Rule legal definition of M'Naghten Rule. M'Naghten Rule synonyms by the Free Online Law Dictionary
- Brom's aunt critical of sentencing decision - PostBulletin.com: Home
- Thomas Bey William Bailey, MicroBionic: Radical Electronic Music and Sound Art in the 21st Century, p. 153-180.