Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thriller Thursday - Some People Just Can't Be Good, Part I

Helen Elizabeth Bronsavage nee Sabulash was my great uncle, Anthony Bronsavage's, wife.  Too bad she didn't act that way.  It got her in more than a little bit of trouble...

The Plain Speaker, 02MAY1949

"Man Found Shot To Death In Freeland:  Hold Witnesses

State and county police authorities were continuing their investigation today into the shotgun death of Louis Broton, 34, of Freeland, formerly of Harleigh, whose body was found early yesterday morning in the small two-room home at Freeland heights which he had rented only 14 hours before.

An official finding of homicide or suicide was still pending.  Dr. Lewis Reese, Luzerne county coroner, said yesterday at Freeland following the post mortem, "There is no decision yet as to whether this is a case of homicide or a suicide."

Two persons, a man and a woman, who are alleged to have been in the company of Broton Saturday evening, are being held as material witnesses by State Police.  Police withheld their names for the present.

State police said today that the ownership of the shotgun found at the scene has not been determined.  According to their investigation, Broton never owned a shotgun and how the weapon came to be there, has still not been determined.

The body was found in a small room, approximately 8 by 8 feet in size.  It was lying on a small mattress which was on the floor, police said.  The shotgun was also found on the floor, a short distance from the body.

Police said today that Broton rented the home Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock from the owner, George B. Hudock of 406 Washington street, Freeland.  He and the woman moved a few possessions into the place at about 4 o'clock.

The woman went into Freeland to buy some groceries, she told police and returned home at about 8 o'clock.  she said the man, the other person being held, who also lives in a small home nearby, were drinking beer.  When the men left later in the evening, Broton went into the small room to sleep.

The man's story agreed with the woman's details, except in the time element, police said.  The woman told police she went into the room later and found Broton trying to put two shells into the shotgun.  She took them from him and later turned them over to police.

She said when she went into the room a second time, she found him dead, and immediately ran for help.  She told police she did not hear the shot, although she claimed to be in the next room during that time.  Police were called at 4:40 a. m.

John E. Jurica, of Freeland, deputy coroner, examined the body and called Dr. Reese, the county coroner.

Dr. Jules Foldes, Hazleton State Hospital pathologist, performed the post mortem in the Jurica funeral home, and at its conclusion, Dr. Reese said that cause of death was due to a shotgun charge which had blown off the top of the head.  He added that the charge had traveled from the front to the rear of the skull.

According to reports, Broton was married but was separated from his wife and family, who are now said to be living in New Jersey.

County Detective Michael Cassic, of Hazleton, was in charge of the county investigation.  Cpl. Robert Musser and Pvt. Louis Shupnik, of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at Wyoming Barracks, took pictures at the scene and also dusted the shotgun for fingerprints.

After the post mortem, Coroner Reese released the body to a brother, Anthony Broton."
The Plain Speaker, Monday afternoon edition, 02MAY1949

What isn't mentioned in this article is that she was married as well, and to my knowledge was not divorced from her husband.  I suppose they were estranged but as far as I know there was no divorce paperwork filed (note to self - verify, just for the sake of good drama shaking the family tree...).  Anthony and Helen had a young 7 year old daughter at home when this happened.  Apparently, momma preferred to not parent.  

So the story is entertaining.  I see holes that I can drive a semi through.  Apparently so did the police...

The Gettysburg Times, 17NOV1949
 "Defendant Weeps At Court Trial

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Nov. 17 (AP) - The Commonwealth succeeded in (??) the records five statements allegedly made and signed voluntarily by Mrs Helen Bronsavage 38 concerning the slaying of Louis Broton

Mrs. Bronsavage, West Hazleton, broke into tears on Tuesday when a statement which police said she made was read into the records.

The statement quoted Mrs Bronsavage as saying she was glad she killed Broton because she was good to him and didn't deserve the treatment she received from him.

'He threatened me so long, I thought it was either my life or his,' the statement said 'We had quarreled many times and I had taken many beatings and abuses from him I'm glad I killed him because he'd have killed me I didn't deserve to be treated like that I tried to be good to him and was getting to be a nervous wreck' "

A bit different story some 6 months after Mr. Broton was killed and the story must have been getting some media attention since it was picked up by the AP!  There's more to this saga, but we'll take it in pieces.  Wait until next "Thriller Thursday" for another update on the trial and the verdict...

FOLLOW UP (01MAR2011) - Sadly the Luzerne County Coroner will not release information on their reports and there are no trial records for this time period, because I'm told they 1) just didn't keep stuff like that (mmm....K...), and 2) records prior to 1972 were lost in the flood caused by Hurricane Agnes.  Drat!


  1. You have a lot of trials in your family history Cherie! :) I hope I find a good one in my tree someday. They make for interesting stories...

  2. Oh, we've all got the skeletons. It's just a matter as to whether or not they've fallen out of the closet yet! :)

    And the story gets better/worse...