Volatile relationship ended in Riverview tragedy

Published 11:22 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The two Riverview residents who died this weekend in a suspected murder-suicide were splitting up after a tumultuous relationship, the brother of one of the victims said Tuesday.

“My sister’s been through a lot,” said Mickey Couture, the brother of Jeanette Brabrand. Police believe Brabrand, 57, shot and killed her former boyfriend, Paul Bamberg, 53, in the home’s study before killing herself in a bedroom.

At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, police were dispatched to the home in the 600 block of N. Broad Street because a female called police and asked them to check on the residents. When police arrived, they found Brabrand and Bamberg, both dead of gunshot wounds.

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Couture described his sister as an educated “high achiever” who always wanted the best of everything. She lost several jobs, one after another, in the commercial mortgage business when companies closed or downsized in the wake of the mortgage crisis, he said, but she was supposed to start a new job Monday.

According to Couture, Brabrand, a straight-A student in high school and graduate of Louisiana State University, lost the “love of her life” three years ago when he died of an invasive brain tumor.

“She’s never recovered from the depression of that,” he said.

Brabrand then got involved with Bamberg, and the two bought the house in Riverview together. However, the relationship went downhill in January, and the two split. Both had since moved on to other relationships, Couture said.

He described Bamberg as an accomplished musician who always helped Brabrand’s and Couture’s mother with projects around the house.

“If my mom needed a guy kind of thing done, Paul was there,” Couture said. “It was just his own compassion. I will always speak very favorably about Paul.”

Couture last spoke with his sister March 10, when he called to wish her a happy birthday.

“She seemed pretty happy,” he said. “She was dating a new boyfriend.”

Couture believes that Bamberg came over Saturday to pick up some of his things, and the two had a fight. Couture doesn’t know the order of events on Saturday, but he does know his sister was seen by neighbors taking a walk about 1:30 p.m., and had tried to call her son, Richard, who lives in Blacksburg. Richard, Couture said, didn’t answer the call, thinking he could call his mother back later. Richard also has had a rough couple of years, Couture said – his apartment burned down two weeks ago, and his girlfriend was among the victims of the April 16, 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech.

Also on Saturday, his sister mailed some her personal effects, including diamond jewelry, to her best friend, Couture said. The family found a postal receipt in the house time-stamped during the 11 a.m. hour Saturday.

Couture found out about his sister’s death when his mother called late Saturday night, as he was enjoying a band at a club near his home in Longview, Texas. When he got outside the club and called her back, all she could say was “I need you now, Jenny’s gone,” he said.

The one-story Riverview home where the murder-suicide took place is adorned with throw rugs, wall hangings and tables with decorations. From the foyer, the only appearance of something amiss on Tuesday was a broken lamp on the floor beside a table in the living room.