The Brom Family Massacre: 30 Years Later

February 15, 2018 10:58 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Sunday marks a dark anniversary in the city of Rochester. David Brom brutally murdered his dad, mom, brother and sister with an ax in their home on the outskirts of Rochester 30 years ago.

Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson was a deputy at the time and first on the scene.  When he reflects on his 34-year career in law enforcement, there are countless cases he can recall, but undoubtedly none compare to February 18, 1988.


"All I knew was that there was something wrong, and all I remember of the call was that David had made some kind of threat to his dad," Torgerson said.

Bernard and Paulette Brom had what looked like the American dream, a nice home on the northwest side of Rochester, four children: Joe, 19, David, 16, Diane, 13, and Ricky, 9. They were actively involved in their church, and from the outside, the Broms looked to be a typical middle-class family.  However, David had a dark side, just how dark, not even his family knew.

"It was just my circumstances that day to take that call and stuff happens," Torgerson said.

At the time, Torgerson had only been in law enforcement for four years, only two in the city of Rochester, when he was dispatched on a call to do a welfare check at the Brom home.

"I knew which house it was, but that I was just going to wait for my backup. We were losing daylight at the time, 5:23 p.m. - I think about that time - 6:00 it's getting pretty dark, so I got out, and I waited he got out his car and I said well here is what I got, told him the stuff I already knew. announced ourselves 'sheriff's office' and of course, nobody answered," Torgerson said. "At this point with no one responding, that was the point where really it just ... now we got  a bad deal here."

Torgerson goes on to explain going heading to the bedrooms upstairs.

"And when I got to the top of the step, and where I could see up on the floor, then that's when I saw what turned out to be both females, their feet laying there," Torgerson said.  "And I whispered then to my partner, 'we've got two bodies up here,' two females, did a quick peek and I remember looking left, it was quite a sight."

You can hear in his voice, the trained law enforcement officer's description of just the facts until he gets to the last bedroom.

"So I walked in further and then I got in just to the corner of that little entry of what was Ricky's room, and he was laying in bed in a fetal position, and again, massive injury to his head, multiple other injuries across his body, and he's laying there clutching a little blanket."

In the days that followed, Torgerson and his wife left for an anniversary getaway, the weight of what was inside that house was heavy. However. for whatever reason, Torgerson said he is able to not let crime scenes haunt or burden him, even the one at the Brom house,

"It was just my circumstances that day to take that call, and stuff happens. you know, whatever it was, it was I was able to find a way to get through it," he said.

And while he would forever carry with him the images from inside the Brom house that night, they are just that, memories.

"You know I can't get stuck in that place."

Joe Brom, the oldest of the children was 19 years old at the time and did not live at home.  He ended up moving to New York and became a philosophy teacher.  He died two years ago from cancer.

As for David, he remains in the St. Cloud Correctional Facility serving time until he is approximately 70 years old when he will be eligible for parole in 2041.



Betsy Singer

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