Man stabbed to death in Midtown

Girlfriend's son arrested Friday night

A 72-year-old man, identified so far only as "Bob," was stabbed to death Friday night at a Midtown residence, allegedly by his girlfriend's 46-year-old son, Herman Van Bragt of Auburn.

Police received a call from Van Bragt around 9:10 p.m. Friday reporting a knife fight on the 2500 block of Waverley Street, near Colorado Avenue, according to Sgt. Sandra Brown.

Police arrived and found Bob, a Palo Alto resident, dead, and Van Bragt suffering from knife wounds. Van Bragt's girlfriend and his mother, Electra Van Bragt, were out to dinner during the incident, according to Brown.

"The mother doesn't know what happened," she said.

On Monday, a coroner's inquiry determined that the older man died of multiple stab wounds, Brown said. She said she could not release the victim's name.

"This is a tragic, tragic incident," she said.

Van Bragt, 46, was later charged with suspicion of homicide and suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Brown said. He spent the night at Stanford Hospital for his knife wounds but was released, she said.

Brown said Van Bragt and his girlfriend had driven from Auburn to visit his mother, known as Ellie.

Brown said she did not know if alcohol was involved or if Van Bragt suffered from mental-health problems.

"I don't have anything to say that there is any diagnosis. We just don't know," she said.

Neighbor Sanford Small said he was away Friday night but returned Saturday to find crime tape extending into his yard.

Small said Electra had two sons, had divorced some time ago and was now involved with Bob, whom he said he liked very much.

Van Bragt, known as "Tim," moved to Auburn to live with his father, a glassblower who recently died, Small said.

"He and his dad were pretty close."

When Van Bragt was younger, he liked to perform magic tricks, Small said. He said he did not know Van Bragt's occupation.

Small said Van Bragt and Bob knew each other; Ellie Van Bragt and Bob had been together for at least five years, he said.

Small said he had never known Bob to be a heavy drinker.

The incident did not particularly surprise Small.

"Not much surprises me anymore. I don't think I ever would have thought Tim (Van Bragt) could lose his temper to that extent. It's funny what you don't know about people."

He called Ellie Van Bragt "a real giving lady."

Ellie and Bob often visited Avenidas, the Palo Alto senior center, he said.

Neighbors Jerry and Lindsay Belden said they didn't hear a fight and only learned of the incident when the police arrived.

They said Ellie Van Bragt was a "night owl" and that Bob kept to himself.

The Waverley Street Van Bragt house is one-story and yellow, with a faded American flag and a dusty front lawn broken by patches of grass. Inside a small gate, a path to the door is lined by tarp-covered pots, papers, books, cans, clothes and other items. In the little-used driveway sits a rusting swing-set and two tricycles.


Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2008 at 12:27 pm

I am Tim Herman vanBragt girlfriend for 7 from now Years,I live in Lincoln Ca, Placer County. I am Herman fiancee. someone took his medications away from him on the past months,and that lady Sharon know it about his mental problems.After my Boyfriend disappear from me for about 20 Days, His brother call me and tell me about what happens. I am sure.Herman for 5 Day's before this happen, stop seen me,and I hear what I hear about the tragedy. What I think is that lady Sharon took my boyfriend all the way down there for some reason, Herman didn't have any driven license or car. She knew about Herman mental problems plus she knew Herman don't get along very well with Bob I think she is
Sharon have to do with what Herman my Boyfriend is going through right now,she should not live them along, with Electra vanBragt Boyfriend

Like this comment
Posted by jr
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 12, 2008 at 1:20 pm

This is old news, I do not understand the purpose in reposting it now

The man is clearly mentally ill and going through the criminal justice system, he is no longer a danger as he is incarcerated and will be for the foreseeable future.

We should leave the family in peace.

Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2008 at 1:46 pm

It is because I did find it out about theres a link on line about my boyfriend battle

Like this comment
Posted by Safeway neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2008 at 6:46 pm


I am sorry that you are going through this right now. What happened surely is a tragedy for you, as well as for all the other persons who are close to this case. My heart goes out to you.

Like this comment
Posted by Msria
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2008 at 10:20 pm

I live in Placer County.I really miss my boyfriend,He where real human being, kind,respectful and gentleman with me for 7 Years. I am looking forwards to see him some time soon

Like this comment
Posted by Beth
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2008 at 10:25 pm

I am a close friend of Herman. He is dealing with much more than what happened March 7, and the best thing anyone can do for him is to pray for him and his family.

Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2008 at 1:20 am

I am prying every single hour......

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