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February 2000

by her sister Nancy Murtha

Victim: Roseann LaBrake, 44 years old

Family: Mother and father, Marie and George Malcolm.  Three sisters, two brothers and two surviving daughters, Roseann and Michelle.

Murderer: Daniel LaBrake, estranged husband

On May 18, 1998, I received a phone call from my sister Roseann.  She sounded happy.  "Dan is being nicer, he's going to give me my camcorder back".  It didn't sound right to me.  Just last week she was telling me how unfair, and how grouchy he was being.  Not wanting to break her good mood, I replied, "That's nice Roseann."  She said, "I think he's starting to accept things better".

"If you pick it up, please don't go alone", I told her.  "No, I won't.  I promise.  I'll go when Michelle is home from work in the evening."  I was quite busy and the conversation was brief.  I didn't realize I would never talk to my sister again.  

Two days later on May 20, 1998, I received a terrifying call from my dad, telling me Roseann was shot and was dead.  The last time Roseann was alone with Dan, he had threatened her with his gun.  He had forced her to hold the bullets while he ranted and raved, "You better hold these.  In the frame of mind I'm in, God knows what I'm capable of doing with this thing!"  At that time, he talked her into staying.  One week later, she left him, with only the clothes on her back.  She returned with the police to retrieve some belongings, telling them about his threatening her with the gun.  

Roseann LaBrake was a wonderful, loving, caring, gentle Catholic woman.  She loved craft shows and was a total chocolate fanatic.  She was at the peak of her happiness when her life was so brutally taken away from her.  Because of the suddenness of her death, it has left everyone that knew her numb. 

 How could I possibly begin to tell you of the pain her death has caused, of the constant lump in our throats, of the sleepless nights, of the confusion, anger and countless other emotions, some we never even knew existed?  A part of us went with Roseann when she was shot to death on May 20, 1998, in the house of Daniel LaBrake in Philadelphia, PA.  

Three weeks before she was shot in the face, she moved away from her soon-to-be-murderer.  She was the happiest anyone had ever seen her.  Everyone, that is, except her estranged husband Daniel, who could not bear the thought of a divorce.  My sister loved her husband, and she told him this, she only wanted him to be happy.  They both realized they brought out the worst in each other.  Neither of them were happy in the marriage.

In April of 1998, Roseann found her own apartment and left her husband Daniel.  She returned on May 20th to retrieve a camcorder.  She arrived at 4:30 pm.  A few minutes later, Daniel placed a 911 call to report his wife's death.  He told the operator it was a suicide.  On May 24th, the medical examiner ruled Roseann's death a homicide.  She had been shot in the head with a .357 Magnum.  

Six months later, a grand jury recommended Daniel LaBrake be charged.  However, Judge William Mazzola did not grant the prosecutor's wish that LaBrake face a charge of first-degree murder.  Instead, the judge ruled that he be tried on a charge not rising higher than third-degree murder.  After LaBrake was arrested, Judge Harry Schwartz, also against the wishes of Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron, granted bail of $250,000 to LaBrake.  He posted the bail.  Our family was in total disbelief.  

In June of 1999, Daniel LaBrake was re-arrested on first degree murder charges and went through another preliminary hearing.  The new judge that will hear the case in Judge Patricia MacInerry.  LaBrake was held on a first degree murder charge and the trial has been set for May 2000.  

My family is so frustrated with how long this process is taking.  Roseann was murdered in May of 1998.  There have been so many delays.  It's just not fair to the family, who is only waiting for justice to be done.  We are trying so hard to be strong, and stay sane, and praying a lot.                                                                                                                     

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