Double slaying: Piano mover saw unlocked door and gun clip - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 3:03 pm
Double slaying: Piano mover saw unlocked door and gun clip

The slayings of Dr. Roger A. Brumback and his wife, Mary, make no sense to friends and colleagues.

Drs. E. Steve Roach and Brumback had exchanged emails once or twice a week for years. As far as Roach knew, everything was business as usual in the Brumbacks' lives; the couple never mentioned feeling threatened or targeted.

“It's a cliche, but neither one of them had a mean bone in their body,” Roach said Wednesday. “They were just as uniformly kind and generous as any two people you'd ever want to meet.”

Omaha police are treating the Brumbacks' deaths as homicides, said Lt. Darci Tierney, a police spokeswoman. Police declined to say how the couple died, and said no arrests had been made Wednesday morning.

The bodies were discovered Tuesday morning when a piano mover arrived at the couple's two-story home in southwest Omaha to find the front door unlocked, a large-caliber gun clip on the threshold.

A few feet inside, Brumback, a 65-year-old Creighton University physician who had announced his retirement and was looking forward to moving to West Virginia, lay dead.

Mary, 65, would also be found in the house. She, too, was slain.

Police declined to say how the couple died and said no arrests had been made Tuesday night.

The piano mover, Jason Peterson, 41, called police just before 10 a.m. after he received no response at the home at 11421 Shirley St. He said he saw the doctor's body but no blood.

Roger Brumback was a professor of pathology, psychiatry and neurology. He came to Creighton to take over as chairman of the department of pathology in 2001 and stepped down in 2010.

Dr. Poonam Sharma, the interim chairwoman, said Brumback met with her about two weeks ago to announce he was retiring June 30. She said Brumback was excited about moving to West Virginia, where he owned property.

“He talked for 10 or 15 minutes about how beautiful West Virginia is,” Sharma said.

Brumback, she said, had been teaching and working as director of autopsy pathology at Creighton since stepping down as chairman. He worked to diagnose the reasons for patients' deaths at Creighton University Medical Center.

It was the second killing connected to the university's pathology department in five years.

Roger Brumback worked with Dr. William Hunter, whose 11-year-old son, Thomas, and housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, 57, were fatally stabbed inside the family's Dundee home in 2008. His wife, Dr. Claire Hunter, works in Creighton's cardiology department.

That case remains unsolved.

“He was an academic and an excellent neuropathologist,” William Hunter said of Brumback.

Hunter said he wondered if the same person who killed the Brumbacks might have killed his son and Sherman. “It's just a thought that comes by,” he said.

Still, Hunter said, he had no reason to make such a connection. He said police had not contacted him Tuesday.

Sharma, who was recruited to Creighton by Brumback, said she didn't know of any threats her colleague had received or any reason he would have enemies.

“I'm absolutely shocked,” Sharma said. “We have no reason to believe anyone would be upset with him or his work.”

In addition to his work at Creighton, Brumback served on the Nebraska Board of Medicine and Surgery. There have been incidents in other states in which board members were targeted by disciplined or disgruntled medical professionals. But Roach said that based on his conversations with Brumback, the Nebraska board hadn't been involved in controversial or contentious cases.

Roach said Brumback was a member of Penn State College of Medicine's first graduating class in 1971. He described Brumback, a friend of 25 years, as a gregarious workaholic.

“He was best man in my wedding,” Roach said. “I can't believe this.”

Sharma said Brumback was very popular with students and faculty.

“He was a perfectionist,” she said. “He wanted to do everything at its best. He also had a cocky sense of humor. Every time you entered his office, he had words of wisdom.”

Brumback was an expert on Alzheimer's disease and authored hundreds of articles and many books.

He was editor-in-chief of both the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine and the Journal of Child Neurology.

On his website, he described himself as a “born-again conservationist” who had an interest in the study and protection of primates.

His wife, Mary, was a homemaker who co-authored a book with her husband in 2006 about fiber and weight control. An acquaintance said Mary Brumback formerly worked as a lawyer.

“As a community, we grieve with their family and friends. Our hearts go out to the colleagues of Dr. Brumback,'' said the Rev. Timothy Lannon, Creighton president, in a letter to faculty members.

“Please keep the Brumback family in your prayers. At times like this, our faith in a loving God can sustain us in the face of immense suffering.''

Dr. Robert Dunlay, interim chairman of the School of Medicine, called the deaths a “terrible tragedy” and said students and faculty are grieving.

The Brumbacks bought their home in 2001, according to Douglas County records. Two neighbors, Jack and Trix Cormaci, said they didn't know Roger Brum­back well. But they'd often see Mary mowing the lawn, describing her as outgoing and friendly.

“She was never mad at anybody,” Trix Cormaci said. “We talked once in a while, the usual thing.”

World-Herald staff writer Maggie O'Brien contributed to this report.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1272, kevin.cole@owh.com

Officer Michael Pecha discusses the discovery of two bodies

Contact the writer: Emerson Clarridge

emerson.clarridge@owh.com    |   402-444-3106    |  

Emerson Clarridge covers crime at night and in the early morning.

Primary battle between Battiato, Morrissey may be only race
UNMC appoints new dean for the college of dentistry
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Metro transit recommends streetcar, rapid-transit bus line for Omaha
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
After decades looking in, Republican Dan Frei seeks chance to take action
Cause of Omaha power outage along Regency Parkway unclear
Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn try to pin label of D.C. insider on each other
Curious about government salaries? Look no further
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
Omaha police investigate two nonfatal shootings
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »