News


Victim Robert Haggquist was thoughtful, friendly

Girlfriend's son -- 'Tim' Van Bragt -- under arrest for homocide, assault with a deadly weapon

A man stabbed to death in Palo Alto Friday night by his girlfriend's son has been identified by police and friends as Robert Haggquist of Palo Alto, a retired chemist and "deeply thoughtful," friendly man.

Haggquist, 72, was reportedly stabbed multiple times by Herman "Tim" Van Bragt, 46, an Auburn resident and 1979 Palo Alto High School graduate.

Friends of Van Bragt's mother, Electra "Ellie" Van Bragt, said he had not shown signs of mental distress in the years they had known him, but on Thursday afternoon he exhibited symptoms that clearly indicated something was wrong.

Van Bragt showed up at La Comida, the lunch room at Avenidas, on Thursday afternoon, accompanying his mother, Haggquist and Van Bragt's girlfriend, Sharon. He often joined the couple for lunch when he visited from Auburn, playing trivia games with the couple and their friends, according to Thomas Barry, a family friend.

But on Thursday, Van Bragt would not sit down.

"He just walked around and was agitated. ... He was a completely sick boy. He was obviously overwrought. He was not one you'd go fishing with," Clifford Stock, a friend and lunch mate of the couple, said.

Barry, a retired teacher of European history at Palo Alto High School, said Van Bragt was in his class in 1977.

"He was a good student -- intelligent, polite and courteous. He displayed no problems of any kind in high school," Barry said. He and Van Bragt continued corresponding after the young man graduated from high school. Van Bragt and his brother moved to Auburn to live with their father, whom they greatly admired. The elder Van Bragt died last August.

Haggquist and Electra became a couple five years ago, having met at Avenidas. The two were described as good friends who never hesitated to help others and always looked for ways to do good deeds.

Longtime friend Peter Salo said Haggquist cared for Salo's cat and helped him buy groceries. And the couple helped Barry and his wife, Carol, through difficult times when Barry's son, Tom Jr., died in 2005.

Electra majored in music at Wake Forest, Ill., Salo said. The couple loved movies and music and always listened to classical music while playing Scrabble every afternoon at Avenidas, Salo said. And they loved driving to Carmel just to have lunch, he added.

Friends described Haggquist as a deeply thoughtful man who was friendly and never said an unkind word about anyone. And he was devoted to Electra Van Bragt, Stock said.

"Bob went to Auburn many times to help her with her problems with her boys. Whenever there were house repairs that needed being done, Bob would do them," he said.

He did not elaborate on problems the sons may have had.

Haggquist was from Minnesota. He does not have children or family in the area, according to Salo.

But he loved genealogy and spent many hours at the Church of the Latter Day Saints Family History Library, according to Stock.

"It's a double tragedy. Because Electra Van Bragt has lost her son, Tim, and lost her 5-year devoted friend," Barry said.

Man stabbed to death in Midtown

Comments

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Posted by none
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 11, 2008 at 5:25 pm

We have been personal friends of this family for years and this info is not correct


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ??
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2008 at 5:31 pm

Which info??


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A concerned friend
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2008 at 10:29 pm

I wonder if the writers of the "Man Stabbed to Death in Midtown" Palo Alto Weekly article following this "Palo Alto Stabbing Victim Identified" piece have any idea that what they reported may be read around the world and that innocent lives are impacted by what they write (whether it is true, or whether it is guessing when certain facts have not yet come to light). My advice to readers is REMEMBER: DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET. Take everything with a grain of salt, unless you can verify it yourself.
To the writers of this article, Don Kazak and Becky Trout, I say, SHAME ON YOU for snooping on an innocent person's private property and revealing what you saw for all the world to read. We've known this family for decades and this piece is very hurtful to all of us who are grieving in this double tragedy. Please try to put yourself (or your parents) in their place and think how you would like to read this story when you picked up the PALO ALTO WEEKLY.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by xxxx
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 11, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Not all the information in this news article is accurate, for instance, the death year of "the elder VanBragt" was 2007, not 2005 as reported. In an interview each person may speak his view of the truth, but facts should be checked by the writers before they are made public.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2008 at 10:03 am

Here's the story that was posted on the Mercury News website: Web Link. Looks like all the same facts as in the above story. Can xxxx and A concerned friend clarify which facts are inaccurate?? Are all the media outlets reporting inaccurate facts (which seems unlikely), or do the above just have an axe to grind? Given the anger behind the posts above, I'd be curious to know the REAL facts of the story. Please elaborate xxxx and A concerned fried.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2008 at 7:36 am

Where in the article is it written that the elder Van Bragt died in 2005? The only mention of a death in 2005 was in the following reference "And the couple helped Barry and his wife, Carol, through difficult times when Barry's son, Tom Jr., died in 2005." Am I missing something here?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by xxxx
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2008 at 9:21 am

To Danny and Steve:
In answer to the requests for what is in error, the date of "the elder van Bragt", listed as 2005 in the original article on this site, has now been corrected to read "last August" in the 8th paragraph above. That is now accurate. The writers are to be commended for correcting the error.

Also, this article states "van Bragt and his brother moved to Auburn to live with their father". They did not live WITH their father, but NEAR him in the same area: Auburn. You can see that Bob would not have been going to the home of the elder van Bragt to do repairs.

Other than that, with all due respect to the dear friends at Avenidas, just because the quoted person didn't see any "signs of mental distress in the years they had known him", that does mean that accused did not suffer such a disorder, as was spoken to by his mother in the related article on this site. I learned years ago that different people, even seeing the same events, can see and remember them differently. This makes a reporter's wording very important, knowing what to report to a world-wide audience on the internet, and how to label individual perceptions as an aspect of the truth while also recognizing that the larger picture might look different.

As far as the question "Are all the media outlets reporting inaccurate fact?",in the Mercury News online article of the past two days, which I can no longer find, new information was presented after the press interviewed the mother of the accused. The mother stated to me that there were 5 errors in that article, but I was unable to reach the reporter to tell her. Being a news reporter is not an easy job, I know, but it is important to verify accuracy before things go into print. Knowing how these errors have been hurtful the mother, I took this on line opportunity to try to address some of the inaccuracies.
Thanks for asking.

As internet users, let's be careful readers, discerning between what is fact and what is experience and opinion.

I would be interested in knowing what info "none" found that was "not correct".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by justapasserby
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2008 at 3:15 am

Too many comments make for little being said.

This is a tragedy for all concerned and little arguements about who said or did whatever is unnecessary. Whether it be right or wrong, leave it be. This family needs support. Let the reporters do their reporting and those of you who may or may not be friends, instead of finding fault with each other, use that energy to be more supportive of the family.(s)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dianne
a resident of Los Altos
on Mar 28, 2008 at 8:59 am


My husband's cousin informed me about this tragedy this morning and I'm really sorry. It turns out this gentleman was a distant relative of my mother in law. Our family doesn't have a lot of relatives and it would have been nice to know him.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 29, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Tim's real first name was Herman?
And Dr Barry remembers Tim as a good student? Tom Barry was so out of it that I can't believe he remembers ANYONE who was in ANY of his classes (I had him in '79).
And, finally: what a horribly written article! It jumps from person to person (at one point it even had me wondering if Electra had been killed as well) but never wraps the story up: Where did ol' Tim do the deed? How'd the cops find out about it? Why did Tim do it? Sue Dremann needs to pay a visit to Barry Bergstrom!!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2008 at 11:22 am

I am writing this a little late after the incident,Because I did not know about what happening with my boyfriend about 20 Days after that tragedy.All I know about the lady call Sharon she did know Tim Herman vanBragt from Auburn Herman my boyfriend and Bob the Mom Boy friend don't get along well and Sharon knows really good about my boyfriend Mental problems, she knows too that we where missing taking his medication.I think Sharon when out to dinner with the Herman Mom and live it along with Bot for one purpose of the outcome tragedy. I am really sorry for what my boyfriend is going through , I love him very much, he when completely mentally ill real sick for about 4 Months from now


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 12, 2008 at 11:37 am

Sorry about my miss spelling words, Herman where not taking his medications because someone took them away from him at that time, I don't live in Palo Alto I live in Lincoln Ca.In Placer county


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Just,correcting the word WE WHERE MISSING,is not correct,instead that it
got it be,HE WHERE MISSING taking his medication
I am sorry for the miss spelling again


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