Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - It was 30 years ago this year one of the most horrific murders in Minnesota history occurred - in Rochester. A 16-year-old by the name of David Brom killed his parents and younger siblings in their rural home, leaving behind a crime scene so gruesome even veteran police investigators were shaken up.

Investigators suspect the axe murders of Brom’s family members happened in the early hours of Feb 18, 1988. He and a female friend skipped school that day and she later testified he told her what he had done. Police became involved when it was learned the siblings missed school and Brom’s father did not show up for work. Phone calls to the Brom home were not answered and later that evening, two Olmsted County deputies went to the rural home just off 18th Ave NW and discovered the bodies.

It took a while before the story became known but when word got out, it made headline news across the U.S. and reporters from around the country were soon headed to Rochester.

Brom was a fugitive for just one night. Police searched all night for Brom and were tipped off the next morning that he was near the Postal Service office on Valleyhigh Dr. NW making a phone call. He had spent the night in a cement culvert at a Rochester concrete plant and taken into custody without incident.

That began a long legal process that ended Oct 16, 1989, when he was convicted of four counts of 1st-degree murder. He is now serving three consecutive life terms. Under state law at the time of the sentencing, a person given a life sentence would be eligible for release after serving 17 ½ years for each term - which means Brom could be considered for parole in 2041 when he will be 71-years-old.

The legal case had numerous twists and turns because of his age and mental health. Brom was treated for depression before proceedings could begin. Olmsted County Attorney Raymond Schmitz wanted to prosecute Brom as an adult, even though he was 16 at the time of the murders. A judge ruled otherwise but the state Supreme Court later ruled in favor of Schmitz.

The trial itself was unusual. It was bifurcated or in two phases.  A jury in the first phase was asked if Brom was guilty. The second phase was to determine if he was so mentally ill at the time of the killings he did not know what he was doing was wrong. The jury returned verdicts in favor of the prosecution in both phases. Brom turned 18 during the trial and never took the stand.

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