News

Mother says son was 'trying to protect me'

Son is charged with killing his mother's friend

Electra van Bragt, whose son allegedly stabbed and killed her gentleman friend last Friday night, said today that her son drove to Palo Alto from Auburn last week because "he had a dream that Bob was trying to kill me. He was trying to protect me."

Bob Haggquist, 72, was Electra van Bragt's gentleman friend.

Herman "Tim" van Bragt, 46, appeared briefly in court in Palo Alto this afternoon. He was wearing a yellow jail jump suit and his hands and legs were manacled. He waved at his mother and eight of her friends when he entered the courtroom and again when he left. They did not exchange words.

It was the first time Electra van Bragt saw her son since the Friday night tragedy. Electra van Bragt and her son's girlfriend, Sharon, went out to dinner that night, leaving Tim van Bragt and Bob Haggquist alone in Electra van Bragt's Waverley Street home. That's when van Bragt allegedly stabbed Haggquist, receiving unspecified injuries himself that kept him in the hospital overnight.

Electra van Bragt tried to see her son on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, going to the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose, but was refused access. On Tuesday, the jailers said she could see her son, but he refused to come out and meet with his mother.

Van Bragt did not enter a plea in court today. Instead, his arraignment was continued to April 7, at which time an attorney will be appointed to defend him.

"My son is very sick with bipolar disease," Electra van Bragt said. "He didn't take his medication."

Electra van Bragt said that her son was distraught over the death of his father on Aug. 25. He and a younger brother, Robert, live in Auburn, as did their father.

"He crashed his car on Sept. 27 like he was trying to commit suicide," Electra van Bragt said of her older son.

"He is very intelligent, very polite," she said of her son.

Electra van Bragt said that Haggquist was "a wonderful, young 72 years old. He was a gentleman friend. He was full of energy, full of life."

She added that she was Haggquist's only family to speak of, outside of some nephews and nieces.

A friend of the family noticed something was wrong with Tim van Bragt the day before. A group of them had gone to Avenidas, the senior center, to have a meal and later played Scrabble.

But Tim van Bragt wouldn't sit with them and appeared agitated, Cecily Coetsee said. Tim van Bragt went missing from the senior center for four hours. Eventually, Coetsee and Haggquist drove around looking for him.

"I felt that he should have been put in custody," Coetsee said. That was the day before Haggquist was killed.

Electra van Bragt, although distraught, was composed when talking about the events of the last week. The only time she broke up slightly was when she said that the Palo Alto police kept her waiting for six hours, until 4 a.m. Saturday, to tell her that Haggquist was dead. They had only told her he had been injured, she said. "Why couldn't they tell me from the (start)?" she asked.

Sgt. Sandra Brown, however, later said that Electra van Bragt wasn't kept waiting for six hours on Friday night. First, she had been questioned by police. "We had to do our investigative interviewing first," Brown said.

Police weren't sure how she would react to the news and were trying to be respectful, Brown said.

"It was sad," Brown said.

When van Bragt was informed, she immediately asked to see Haggquist, something the police could not allow because of the state of his body, Brown said.

"It just wasn't healthy for her. It wouldn't have been good for her," Brown said.

When asked today by a friend how she was, van Bragt replied, "I'm scared. I'm praying a lot."

She also maintains that if she and her son's girlfriend had stayed home on Friday night, tragedy would have been avoided.

"It wouldn't have happened in front of me," she said.

Related stories:

Victim Robert Haggquist was thoughtful, friendly

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Why aren't we reading stories where local Realtors provide the market value of the house on Waverley - I seem to recall stories like that when the Fitzhugh (sp?) murder happened back in 2000. Have the standards for our local papers actually improved?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fact checker
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 12, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Citizen

There are several local papers -- which one are you referring to?

I read quite a few stories about the Southgate murder and don't remember the insensitivity you're referring to.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by janet
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2008 at 6:46 am

How incredibly paternalistic and patronizing on the part of the police to act as below. Mrs. van Bragt is an adult woman, not a child. I wonder how many of us would like to be kept in the dark about the condition of a loved one, and then denied the right to spend a few minutes with the body. Mrs. van Bragt is perhaps in her sixties at least, but seems totally competent from the article. Is this discrimination against senior citizens?

Police weren't sure how she would react to the news and were trying to be respectful, Brown said.

"It was sad," Brown said.

When van Bragt was informed, she immediately asked to see Haggquist, something the police could not allow because of the state of his body, Brown said.

"It just wasn't healthy for her. It wouldn't have been good for her," Brown said.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 20, 2008 at 9:05 am

Greate story for Calif.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shandra
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 12, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Electra vanBragt is 78 years old


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2008 at 10:09 am

Sorry this is me again I Just find out about this, (Palo Alto on line links) last Friday night.I am really SAD about what my boyfriend is going through. Today is Sunday the 13,and while rereading all this information about what my boyfriend is going through,and after read that ,he crashed his car in September 27/08,yes he did,and I am sure he where trying to commit suicide.Before all that happens Herman where seen his Dad dieing little by little every day before his decease,Herman start get in to a worse depression about his bipolar disease.He where not taking medicines Sharon where the one who took him down there,plus she saw him acting funky a Day before and hours before too.She sure'nt go out to dinner with Herman Mom and live my boyfriend along with Bob,they didn't get along well
Maria


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2008 at 11:22 am

I am sorry about my boyfriend car crash it was on September 27/2007


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