Triple murder-suicide at North Dakota farm is result of ‘brother dispute’, sheriff reveals: 59-year-old farmer killed his own son, brother and another man before turning on himself himself.
- Douglas Dulmage, 56, was shot dead in his combine in a field in North Dakota
- Dulmage had hired the man who allegedly murdered him and two others
- The dispute leading to the murder-suicide had been escalating for more than a week
A fight between two brothers in North Dakota led to a farm helper killing his own brother, son and another man before turning the gun on himself, an inquest has heard.
According to Towner County Sheriff Andrew Hillier, Robert Bracken, 59, killed Douglas Dulmage, 56, in his combine on August 29, after the farmer hired him and two other people to help bring in the harvest.
An autopsy revealed Bracken self-inflicted a .357 caliber revolver, with evidence at the scene suggesting he killed Dulmage along with his own brother, Richard Bracken, 64, and his 34-year-old son . Justin Bracken, before committing suicide.
The triple murder happened in a wheat field west of Maza, North Dakota, about 13 miles northeast of Leeds.
The sheriff said the dispute “had been escalating for a week or more” before the shooting, but did not elaborate on the motive.
Douglas Dulmage is pictured in Leeds. Authorities said an argument between two brothers led to a triple suicide last month in a North Dakota wheat field, where Dulmage was killed.
The Towner County Sheriff’s Office released a statement following a preliminary investigation
Dulmage lived with his wife and two daughters in Leeds, but farmed with his 95-year-old father on their land outside the city.
Local sources – including family members – told KVLY that Dulmage had hired the three men from Bracken to work on Cando’s farm.
Deputies arrived at the 6100 block lot of Northeast 66th Street at 6 p.m. to find four unresponsive people.
“It’s hard to understand why something like this would happen in a rural farming community,” North Dakota Farm Bureau President Daryl Lies said in a statement.
“When bad comes it can be devastating, but we must remember that there is more good than bad in our world. Doug’s dedication to farming and love for his family will forever be etched in our memories.
After the shooting, local volunteers finished harvesting the dead farmer’s wheat field.
Douglas Dulmage (pictured left with his father Bob, 95), 56, was shot dead in his combine harvester while harvesting wheat in his field in North Dakota
Dulmage is shown having dinner in the fields (right), with a small Polaroid photo of his family taped to a box, with another photo showing him putting a flag on the farm equipment of Douglas Dulmage’s farm (to the left)
Traynor said area farmers and friends of the Dulmage family have already held a meeting on how they will handle the work of harvesting the remaining wheat, corn and soybeans.
The deaths are a blow to the farming community at a time that typically precedes harvest celebrations, the leader of a North Dakota farm group said.
“Doug was a pillar of the community. He was a discreet servant leader. His actions speak volumes about his tremendous strength of character,’ Pat Traynor, a close friend of the Dulmage family, told KX News.
Dulmage’s Twitter showed a photo of one of his fields, capturing his farm in happier times