- Bodies of retired Morris County clerk Joan Bramhall, 76, and her husband of 54 years, John Bramhall, were found in their Denville, New Jersey, home on Thursday
- Post-mortem determined Joan had been shot by John, who then turned the gun on himself
- Joan Bramhall was described as ‘an institution’ and spent 50 years in local politics
- However the couple had been under ‘enormous stress’
- Friends say she had been suffering from dementia
- Joan and John Bramhall had also been raising their daughter’s six children
- Daughter Lori Bramhall suffers from substance abuse issues and her father recently took out a restraining order against her
06:05 GMT, 10 August 2014
06:05 GMT, 10 August 2014
A post-mortem examination has revealed that New Jersey Republican campaigner Joan Bramhall was shot dead at her Denville home by husband of 54 years, John Brahmhall, who then turned the gun on himself.
The couple’s daughter has said the two had recently been under ‘enormous stress’ amid reports that that 76-year-old Bramhall – a Morris County clerk of 15 years who retired in December – had been suffering from dementia.
Their bodies were discovered by a family member about 10am on Thursday.
A longtime friend, Keith Pierson, 63, told The Daily Record he noticed Joan had become ‘vacant’ of late, and said she recently asked him whether President Richard Nixon had died.
Recently retired: New Jersey Republican fixture Joan Bramhall was shot dead on Thursday by her husband John Bramhall, who then killed himself. She had reportedly been suffering dementia and the couple were under ‘enormous stress’
However Pierson said in those times she would often have something of a mental reboot and be straight back to herself.
One the couple’s children, daughter Lori Bramhall, told the publication she has battled substance abuse issues for years and that her parents had, at various times, raised her six children.
Lori Bramhall was estranged from her father, who had obtained domestic violence restraining orders against her and three of her children one day before the deaths.
‘My father said I wasn’t allowed to talk to my mother. I loved my mother and she loved me,’ Lori Bramhall told The Daily Record.
Lori Bramhall said her father had mentioned that her mother had dementia, but she didn’t believe him.
She said her mother had become forgetful, but was not suffering any serious mental ailments.
Pierson – who said he has known Bramhall for decades – described her as one of the classiest women he had ever known.
He said her husband kept a low profile and liked to go hunting.
Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi said Bramhall was a political leader that entered into politics at a time when women were severely under-represented.
‘Her vision was obviously bigger than the roles women used to be pigeon-holed into,’ Grossi said.
Joan Bramhall had two children from a previous relation and another two children during her marriage with John Bramhall.
However one of their daughters, Deborah, sister of Lori, previously died.
Joan Bramhall had been a longtime member of the Morris County Republican Committee and served as its chairwoman from 1988 to 1994, and worked alongside present Governor Chris Christie as a freeholder from 1993 to 1998.
John Bramhall had owned a construction company which was responsible for many of the large homes in the couple’s neighborhood, reports the Star Ledger.
Family home: The couple were found in their Arden Road home in Denville after police received a call from a family member
Assembleyman Michael Patrick Carroll said Bramhall was incredibly kind and helpful to him when he began in politics in the 1970s.
‘She was a great lady, everybody’s friend. She never had an ill word about anybody,’ Carroll told the Star Ledger.
‘At the end of the day, if you could stay serving the people in the state of New Jersey for basically 50 years, even somewhere as relatively civil as Morris County, and never piss anyone off, that says a lot about your personality.’
When she announced at the age of 74 in January 2013 that she would not run for a fourth term as county clerk, Bramhall said she was looking forward to her retirement.
‘You know when it’s time to stop and I want to stop and smell the roses, so to speak,’ Bramhall said, reports the Daily Record.