Kids don’t deserve that

On Monday the family of Trevor Branscum spent the evening setting off fireworks in their yard. Neighbors say they seemed to be a happy family, and were not known for arguments. Both Amanda and Trevor Branscum were thought of as good parents.

As one neighbor said “kids don’t deserve that”.

But there was an argument that evening.  Reports indicate that Amanda Branscum was seen in a store early on Tuesday, just after midnight, when her husband followed her in and an argument began. The couple left the store and as Amanda Trimble Branscum tried to drive away, Trevor Branscum was seen diving into the van through an open window.

Police were called, and as they were searching for the van, another call came in.

Amanda Trimble says she left the home with a female friend, due to the argument. She returned after about an hour. And she says when she returned she saw her husband’s body when she went to the door, but she didn’t enter.

Police responding to the call found the couple’s children. The twins, were found lying on the couch and the couple’s two other children were found in bedrooms. Police say that the children appeared to have been sleeping at the time they were shot.

Police say that the 5 year old twins Taylor Branscum and Alyssa Branscum and their older siblings Aubrie Branscum, 12, Jacob Branscum, 10, all died from a gunshot wound to the head, two of the children were reported to have been shot at close range. Police say that the weapon was a hunting rifle, and that it would have had to be reloaded after each shot. Trevor Branscum, 38, was reported to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was found lying on top of the suspected murder weapon.  

Police say the couple had lived in the home for the last 3 years and there were no reports of domestic violence.

Yesterday was the 4 th of July. And as I stood in my backyard watching as neighbors set off fireworks, I thought of this family.

I remembered past July 4 ths, when my children were young. How they loved the fireworks and would watch and wait for each explosion to go off. And how they would smile and jump if one firework caught them off guard.

And how when they were older, they would watch the fireworks no less raptly, yet pretending to be blase. How we all enjoyed the fireworks. And how I enjoyed watching them.

This family had pretty much the same type of evening. Yet within a few short hours, there were more sinister fireworks in their home. Aim at a child and shoot then reload, aim at a child then shoot and reload, aim at a child then shoot then reload, aim at a child and shoot then reload till they are all dead. Then the final shots to himself. No matter how angry at a spouse they might be how could any parent do this? And why the children?

The family says they believe it was done to punish the wife.


Some of the children in the area released balloons, in a memorial/counseling session to help them cope with the loss of their friends. This occurred on the same day the children were being buried.

The father is being buried separately from the children.


A beating and a fiery crash

Manuel Larrea, 52 showed up at his estranged wife’s home on Sunday about 9 pm. He appeared to be drunk, and asked Catalina Larrea  to give their relationship another chance. When she refused, a pushing match began then Larrea began beating her.  A neighbor heard screaming and ran to see what was the matter. Larrea saw the neighbor and took off, Cataline Larrea had to be taken to the hospital where she identified her attacker to police.

It has been reported that Manuel Larrea did return to the area, telling others that he was looking for a gold crucifix that he had dropped. Catalina Larrea was not released from the hospital until about 2 am.

Upon her release she decided to go home with her oldest daughter, but she sent the youngest daughter home with her children’s aunt, Manuel Lorrea’s sister.

At about 4:03 am, Manuel Lorrea showed up at his sister’s home. He reportedly set his vehicle on fire, and drove it into his sister’s house. His sister, his daughter and three other occupant’s of the home made it outside without injury. The vehicle entered the home, catching it on fire, and stopped just short of the aunt’s bed. His nine year old daughter did see the vehicle, but did not see her father.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire and a body believed to be Larrea was removed from the vehicle and taken for autopsy and to be positively identified.

Police say they had looked for Larrea after the report of the attack on  his wife, but were unsuccessful in locating him.

Reportedly there were previous problems. Allegedly last year Lorrea had attacked Catalina and her oldest daughter with a knife and Catalina recieved a punctured lung. Lorrea had been charged with assault and weapons offenses in Mar. 2005. When he went to court in Nov. 2005 he was sentenced to 5 years probation. Reportedly a restraining was issued at that time and was still in effect.

Luckily the victim did survive this time. It is encouraging that Lorrea’s sister did appear to be supportive of the wife. I wonder if perhaps Lorrea may have thought that his wife was in the home at the time that he crashed his car into the house.

One of the articles described what the daugther had to say, about how she had been unable to sleep.

And that brings me to a point that I have wanted to discuss. Many victims will say they stay with the abuser for the children. (Though this one didn’t say that). According to one source more than half of the children in domestic violence shelters show clinical signs of post traumatic stress syndrome and anxiety.

Younger children may blame themselves for the events, may withdraw, may exhibit regressed behaviors, or become non-verbal. They may have difficulty eating, sleeping or have sleep disturbances, problems with concentration, and other symptoms.

Older children may either withdraw or show aggressive behaviors themselves. They may lose interest in social activities, have temper tantrums, be irritable, lash out at peers siblings or pets, . They may have more academic problems at school, or become “unruly”. Girls especially will sometimes withdraw and their behavior changes may be missed. Adolecents are at risk of academic failure, and may be at risk of dropping out of school or delinquency.

A big thanks to Trench for letting me know about this domestic violence case.