Auburn man arrested on suspicion of murder

46-year-old charged with killing mother’s boyfriend
By: Jenifer Gee, Journal Staff Writer
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A 46-year-old Auburn resident was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of homicide and assault with a deadly weapon after an apparent fight with his mother's boyfriend, according to Palo Alto police reports. Herman Van Bragt was charged with murder early Saturday morning following the discovery of a 73-year-old man's body Friday night at a Palo Alto residence, Palo Alto Police Sgt. Sandra Brown told The San Jose Mercury News. Police arrived at the residence on Waverley Street at 9:10 p.m. in response to a call from Van Bragt about a fight involving a knife. When police arrived, they found Van Bragt outside of his mother's home. He suffered minor injuries during the fight and was taken to Stanford Medical Center. After he received treatment for his injuries, he was arrested and charged with murder at 3 a.m. Saturday, The Mercury News reported. Police remain unclear as to who started the fight. The 73-year-old man's name is not yet released pending notification of the next of kin. The victim's girlfriend, Van Bragt's mother, and Van Bragt's girlfriend were not at the house during the time of the murder. They returned from dinner to find police on the scene and investigating the 73-year-old's murder, The Mercury News reported. An autopsy was scheduled for today. Van Bragt is in the custody of the Santa Clara County Department of Correction, according to Mark Cursi, public information officer. Van Bragt is being held without bail. His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow, Cursi said. A longtime next-door neighbor said he was surprised when he heard what happened. Sanford Small described Ellie Van Bragt and her good friend as sweet and considerate people. He said the victim was always tinkering around with Ellie's home. He would constantly borrow tools form Small, but always returned them on time. Small said he and the victim often engaged in political discussions. I really enjoyed him. I thought he was a great guy, Small said. Small said he didn't know Herman Van Bragt as well. He said they had spoken a few times. Small said he knew Herman's father had recently passed away and that he was struggling to cope with his death. Still, Small said, he didn't suspect the man 18 years his junior to be violent. I'm surprised that he had that in him. He never struck me as being a violent person that I know of but I didn't socialize with him, Small said. Sunday night, Small saw Ellie return to her home. He went over to help when he saw her trying to open a jammed front door. I just told her how sorry I was, Small said. She was just saying if only she was there, should've could've stopped it.