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."
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.
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